DETROIT - For just the second time in school history, the Michigan Tech football team has earned a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title. The Huskies earned a decisive 35-13 victory over Wayne State Saturday to improve to 7-3.
Coupled with other results in the league, Tech finished in a four-way tie for the GLIAC North Division championship with Grand Valley State, Saginaw Valley State and Hillsdale.
"It's special," said Tech coach Tom Kearly. "Any time you get a chance to win a title and put a banner up is special. It doesn't happen very often.
"Our coaching staff did a great job getting our team prepared every week, and a lot of players had their best seasons - especially our seniors. We didn't always play well, but we always played hard, and I'm very proud of this group."
Michigan Tech built a big early lead then held on to defeat the Warriors (5-5), who were 2011 national runners-up. The Huskies totaled 198 yards rushing and 197 more passing to close their 2012 season with a win.
Tyler Scarlett's first-quarter touchdown pass to Pat Carroll marked the ninth time in 10 games Tech scored the first points of the game. Carroll made a nice catch at the 5-yard line, then held off a defender to reach the end zone.
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The Huskies' defense held the Warriors on downs, and the teams traded punts before the visitors added another touchdown at the 10:42 mark of the second quarter. Fullback Cole Welch had the scoring play - a 1-yard dive - for his fourth TD in the last three weeks.
Wayne broke up the shutout with a 36-yard field goal with 5:52 remaining in the half, but Tech quickly added to its advantage. Ethan Shaver hauled in a 7-yard pass from Scarlett to cap a 14-play, 72-yard drive with just 40 seconds remaining before halftime.
A Nelson Wienke sack on the penultimate play of the half forced a 56-yard Wayne field goal attempt which was missed short.
The score at the intermission was 21-3 in favor of Michigan Tech.
Cedrick Barber recorded a 2-yard scoring run with 4:58 remaining in the third quarter. The touchdown was set up by a 62-yard run by Charlie Leffingwell on the drive. Garrett Mead's extra point left the score 28-3.
Wayne State scored its only touchdown of the day early in the fourth quarter. The Huskies' defense forced the Warriors to go 94 yards on 16 plays before finally surrendering the 3-yard TD pass.
The hosts recovered an onside kick to keep possession, but the Tech defense forced a fumble to stop the WSU momentum.
Stef Terleckyj's second field goal of the day with 3:41 remaining pulled Wayne within 28-13, but Scarlett iced the game with a 24-yard strike to Carroll less than a minute later.
Scarlett was an efficient 16-of-22 passing for 169 yards and three touchdowns. Perhaps a more telling statistic of his day was Tech's 11-of-16 mark on converting third-down plays.
Carroll had six catches for 98 yards in his final game as a Husky. Leffingwell also came within an eyelash of 100 yards with 97 on 13 rushing attempts.
Senior linebacker Justin Armstrong was the Superior Player of the Game with a game-high 14 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
The GLIAC North championship tie was forged when Saginaw Valley scored a touchdown with nine seconds left to beat Grand Valley 55-52 and allow Tech and Hillsdale to join the logjam. None of the four teams qualified for the NCAA Playoff field announced Sunday. Ashland, the South Division champion, will be the GLIAC's lone representative.