HOUGHTON - It was far from pretty, but Saturday afternoon the Michigan Tech football team overcame a slew of miscues to earn a key come-from-behind 28-21 Homecoming victory over Northwood.
After turning the ball over three times and falling behind 21-7 by halftime, the Huskies forced three turnovers in the second half, held the Timberwolves off the scoreboard and tacked on a game-winning 60-yard touchdown with 2:37 to play.
"We were really sloppy - a lot of mistakes, penalties, turnovers, giving them some big plays - we weren't real sharp, but credit to our kids, the resolve, the 'Sisu,' whatever you want to call it, was there and we won that football game in the fourth quarter," Tech coach Tom Kearly said.
Michigan Tech quarterback Tyler Scarlett throws one of his 32 pass attempts in Saturday’s 28-21 come-from-behind win over Northwood at Sherman Field. The sophomore completed 18 passes for 267 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in leading Tech to a 5-1 record. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Tech outgained Northwood 151-17 yards while holding the ball for 10:02 of the final 15 minutes, and most importantly, the Huskies scored 15 of their 28 points then, too.
Less than a minute into the final quarter, Tech defensive end Nelson Wienke sacked NU quarterback Aaron Shavers, forcing a fumble recovered by Justin Armstrong. Wienke tallied seven tackles, four tackles for a loss, three sacks and that critical forced fumble in the game.
"We dialed it up and put him under pressure," Wienke said. "That's something we key ourselves on is getting key turnovers, so that was big for us."
Northwood 7 14 0 0 - 21
Tech 7 0 6 15 - 28
MT Akeem Cason 7-yard run (Garret Mead kick), 4:28
NU Carrington Thompson 29-yard pass from Aaron Shavers (Alex Faust kick), 2:02
NU Thompson 8-yard pass from Shavers (Faust kick), 12:24
NU Rashad Hedgepeth 26-yard run (Faust kick), 3:21
MT Matt Curtin 38-yard pass from Tyler Scarlett (Mead kick failed), 12:19
MT Cedrick Barber 3-yard run (Scarlett run), 6:48
MT Bryan LaChapelle 60-yard pass from Scarlett (Mead kick), 2:37
FIRST DOWNS 14 22
RUSHES-YARDS 43-134 44-130
PASSING YDS 146 267
Passes A-C-I 25-11-1 32-18-1
OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS 68-280 76-397
Punt Returns-Yards 2-10 3-14
Kickoff Returns-Yards 3-74 3-37
Interception Returns-Yards 1-0 1-8
Punts (Number-Yds) 6-35.0 6-35.0
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 3-3
Penalties-Yards 6-54 8-74
Possession Time 29:15 30:45
Third-Down Conversions 4-15 8-18
Fourth-Down Conversions 1-3 1-3
Sacks by: Number-yards 8-39 3-16
RUSHING: Northwood Rashad Hedgepeth 13-86, 1 TD; Jordan Jonker 11-48; Tony Hite 1-19; Jared Briguglio 2-8. Michigan Tech Tyler Scarlett 10-32; Josh Hauswirth 8-29; Cedrick Barber 13-29, 1 TD; Akeem Cason 7-22, 1 TD.
PASSING: Northwood Aaron Shavers 10-21-1-140, 2 TD. Michigan Tech - Scarlett 18-32-1-267, 2 TD.
RECEIVING: Northwood Carrington Thompson 4-65, 2 TD; Jordan Jonker 3-18; Davonte Elzy 2-15; Bryan Thomas 1-29. Michigan Tech Matt Curtin 6-98, 1 TD; Pat Carroll 4-23; Bryan LaChapelle 3-95, 1 TD; Alex Elsenheimer 3-25.
INTERCEPTIONS: Northwood Patrick Kelly 1-0. Michigan Tech DeShawn Nelson 1-8.
FUMBLES: Northwood Shavers 2-1; Jonker 1-1. Michigan Tech Barber 1-1; Elsenheimer 1-1; Hauswirth 1-1.
Tech didn't capitalize immediately, but the Huskies forced another turnover on the next Northwood drive, this time a Jordan Jonker fumble forced by Kevin Nancarrow and recovered by Cameron Allen.
This time Tech turned it into points, as Cedrick Barber capped off a nine-play, 54-yard drive with a 3-yard rushing touchdown.
After the Huskies held Northwood to a three-and-out, it didn't take long for the offense to convert the opportunity into the game-winning touchdown.
Tight end Bryan LaChapelle cut right to left across the middle about 8 yards downfield, quarterback Tyler Scarlett hit him, and LaChapelle found blockers downfield, stayed inbounds down the left sideline and powered his way in for a 60-yard TD with 2:37 left in the game.
"It's a character builder," Wienke said. "We showed that we can come back and battle through adversity; and it's Homecoming, so we always want to win that game, so I'm real glad for our team. It was a good win for us."
The game actually started off well for the Huskies after Akeem Cason scored a 7-yard rushing touchdown with 4:28 remaining in the first quarter and the defense held Northwood to 0 yards of offense until after that score.
But Shavers connected with Carrington Thompson on 29- and 8-yard touchdown passes about five minutes apart, and late in the second quarter Rashad Hedgepeth scored on a 26-yard run. The first Thompson TD and Hedgepeth's tally each resulted from Tech fumbles.
The Huskies set the stage for their eventual fourth-quarter heroics when senior wide receiver Matt Curtin caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Scarlett on the opening drive of the second half - the eighth TD connection between the two in the last three games.
"I just try to run good routes, and Tyler delivers the ball really well," said Curtin, who now has 33 catches, 602 yards and nine touchdowns this year. "It was definitely a grind. Our word of the week this week was consistency and we didn't really put it together. Sloppy first half, but we put it together in the second half and made some plays and got back in the ballgame, and our defense stepped up. It's a big win."
Tech (5-1, 5-1 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), now in a three-way tie for first place in the GLIAC North Division - Grand Valley was stunned 38-10 by Northern Michigan, and Wayne State lost 24-7 to Saginaw Valley - heads on the road this Saturday to take on Ferris State (4-3, 3-3 GLIAC).