Super start

HOUGHTON – Brandon Cowie insisted it wasn’t as easy as it looked. But in his finest hour as a Michigan Tech quarterback, he certainly made it appear that way.

The senior set a school single-game record for completion percentage, connecting on 26 of 28 passes (92 percent), as Michigan Tech rolled to a 33-7 win over the Walsh Cavaliers on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

“It helps when you got guys like David Walter, Ian Fischer, David Falish, Ian Wienke and all the rest of the (receivers) that played today,” Cowie said. “When you have that wide receiving crew, it’s pretty easy to play football when you know that they’re going to get open.”

Cowie eclipsed the mark of Steve Short, who completed 24 of 28 passes (86 percent) in 2008. Cowie finished with 280 yards passing and three touchdowns. At times, it almost looked like he was going through a 7-on-7 drill with the ample amount of time he had in the pocket, while the receivers repeatedly won their individual battles on the outside utilizing various curl and out-routes.

“(Walsh) was playing a lot of double invert, with two safeties spinning down to protect the run, and the two corners were left on islands,” Michigan Tech head coach Tom Kearly said. “They had a young corner on the boundary, that’s where Walter lines up, so there’s a series of routes that we have scripted for Walter, depending on the coverage and the time of the game.”

Walter led the receiving corps with eight catches for 95 yards receiving. It wasn’t uncommon to see him gain 2-3 yards of separation on his routes, and on one occasion, his defender lost his shoe trying to cut back to cover him.

Cowie’s finest pass came on his team’s opening drive: a 31-yard laser down the seam to Wienke, who was tackled at the Walsh 1. But on third-and-1, the Tech offense committed its only major blunder; Cowie rolled left on an option run and fumbled the ball as he was hit before the goal line. The ball trickled out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback for Walsh.

But in perfect symbolism of Walsh’s offensive afternoon, the Cavaliers fumbled on its first play from scrimmage following the turnover and Tech freshman Travis Tidwell recovered at the Walsh 25.

To cap the crazy sequence, on the next play, Tech freshman Jacob Wenzlick took a handoff from Cowie on a reverse and sprinted up the right sideline for a 25-yard touchdown.

“We had that scripted with him,” Kearly said of Wenzlick’s score. “Both him and Ben Hartley have some speed and versatility, so we want to see if we can get them in the ballgame.”

Unlike Walsh, who gained just 146 yards on the afternoon, Tech’s offense and Cowie continued to operate with precision like the veteran unit they are. Cowie went 8 for 8 in the first quarter, with his eighth completion going to the flats to senior Kevin Miller, who ran in for a 10-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.

Cowie’s first incompletion came with 10 minutes left in the second quarter. After play-action, Walter streaked up the left side of the field and was double covered. Walter was the only man running a route on the play, so Cowie wisely overthrew him. The second incompletion occurred when Cowie rolled left and underthrew senior running back John Williams in the flats with 5:11 remaining in the fourth quarter. As Cowie went through the handshake line after the game, Mitch Lake announced the new record to the crowd and Cowie’s teammates congratulated him.

“You don’t go out here to break records, you go out here to get wins, and that’s exactly what we did,” Cowie said. “Anytime you can come out and get a win like this, it’s always good.”

Michigan Tech junior Josh King was reliable in the kicking game, converting a 26-yard field goal from the left hash and a 28-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give the Huskies a 26-0 advantage.

Walsh’s offensive first-half stats can be summarized in one statistic: they had as many first downs (one) as turnovers. The rest of the first-half stats were just as ugly, as the Cavaliers ran 21 plays and managed just 2.3 yards per play for 48 yards of offense and gained 10 yards on the ground on 11 attempts.

“I thought we did a real good job of controlling the line of scrimmage,” Kearly said, “and I thought we did a great job of stopping the run.”

Against Michigan Tech’s full starting defensive unit, the Cavaliers appeared to be running into a black brick wall. Even after Tech mixed its defensive lineup with substitutes, the Cavaliers’ final rushing tally was just 35 yards on 20 carries.

“One of the big things was reading their tailback and understanding which way he was going,” Michigan Tech senior linebacker Ben Tauchen said. “Right after that, we’d be able to diagnose the play from there and play fast.”

Cowie threw two more touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game out of reach: a 14-yard pass to Wienke after a play-action pass and handoff, and a 16-yard touchdown to senior John Williams off a screen to give the Huskies a 33-0 lead.

Walsh looked every bit the team selected fifth in the GLIAC South, as Tidwell jumped a post route for an interception after Walsh freshman quarterback Reid Worstell threw late over the middle. Tech senior Nick Brajak also picked off Worstell, but fumbled as he was tackled, allowing Walsh to recover. After the third quarter, Cowie had more touchdown passes (three) than Walsh had first downs (two).

“I thought we played relatively very clean for an opener, and (the opener is) always very scary for me,” Kearly said.

It gets tougher for the Huskies next week. Michigan Tech hosts No. 12 Ferris State on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Sherman Field. Ferris State defeated Ohio Dominican 41-0 on Thursday.

MORAN EXPECTED TO PLAY SATURDAY

One notable starter missing Saturday was junior linebacker Spencer Moran. Moran didn’t dress and was seen on the sideline with his left leg wrapped. But Kearly expects to see Moran against Ferris State.

“Spencer is supposed to practice this week and play, and that’s what we’re hoping,” Kearly said.

Super start

HOUGHTON – Brandon Cowie insisted it wasn’t as easy as it looked. But in his finest hour as a Michigan Tech quarterback, he certainly made it appear that way.

Cowie set a school single-game record for completion percentage, connecting on 26 of 28 passes (92 percent), as Michigan Tech rolled to a 33-7 win over the Walsh Cavaliers on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

“It helps when you got guys like David Walter, Ian Fischer, David Falish, Ian Wienke and all the rest of the (receivers) that played today,” Cowie said. “When you have that wide receiving crew, it’s pretty easy to play football when you know that they’re going to get open.”

Cowie eclipsed the mark of Steve Short, who completed 24 of 28 passes (86 percent) in 2008. Cowie finished with 280 yards passing and three touchdowns. At times, it almost looked like he was going through a 7-on-7 drill with the ample amount of time he had in the pocket, while the receivers repeatedly won their individual battles on the outside utilizing various curl and out-routes.

“(Walsh) was playing a lot of double invert, with two safeties spinning down to protect the run, and the two corners were left on islands,” Michigan Tech head coach Tom Kearly said. “They had a young corner on the boundary, that’s where Walter lines up, so there’s a series of routes that we have scripted for Walter, depending on the coverage and the time of the game.”

Walter led the receiving corps with eight catches for 95 yards receiving. It wasn’t uncommon to see him gain 2-3 yards of separation on his routes, and on one occasion, his defender lost his shoe trying to cut back to cover him.

Cowie’s finest pass came on his team’s opening drive: a 31-yard laser down the seam to Wienke, who was tackled at the Walsh 1. But on third-and-1, the Tech offense committed its only major blunder; Cowie rolled left on an option run and fumbled the ball as he was hit before the goal line. The ball trickled out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback for Walsh.

But in perfect symbolism of Walsh’s offensive afternoon, the Cavaliers fumbled on its first play from scrimmage following the turnover and Tech freshman Travis Tidwell recovered at the Walsh 25.

To cap the crazy sequence, on the next play, Tech freshman Jacob Wenzlick took a handoff from Cowie on a reverse and sprinted up the right sideline for a 25-yard touchdown.

“We had that scripted with him,” Kearly said of Wenzlick’s score. “Both him and Ben Hartley have some speed and versatility, so we want to see if we can get them in the ballgame.”

Unlike Walsh, who gained just 146 yards on the afternoon, Tech’s offense and Cowie continued to operate with precision like the veteran unit they are. Cowie went 8 for 8 in the first quarter, with his eighth completion going to the flats to senior Kevin Miller, who ran in for a 10-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.

Cowie’s first incompletion came with 10 minutes left in the second quarter. After play-action, Walter streaked up the left side of the field and was double covered. Walter was the only man running a route on the play, so Cowie wisely overthrew him. The second incompletion occurred when Cowie rolled left and underthrew senior running back John Williams in the flats with 5:11 remaining in the fourth quarter. As Cowie went through the handshake line after the game, Mitch Lake announced the new record to the crowd and Cowie’s teammates congratulated him.

“You don’t go out here to break records, you go out here to get wins, and that’s exactly what we did,” Cowie said. “Anytime you can come out and get a win like this, it’s always good.”

Michigan Tech junior Josh King was reliable in the kicking game, converting a 26-yard field goal from the left hash and a 28-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give the Huskies a 26-0 advantage.

Walsh’s offensive first-half stats can be summarized in one statistic: they had as many first downs (one) as turnovers. The rest of the first-half stats were just as ugly, as the Cavaliers ran 21 plays and managed just 2.3 yards per play for 48 yards of offense and gained 10 yards on the ground on 11 attempts.

“I thought we did a real good job of controlling the line of scrimmage,” Kearly said, “and I thought we did a great job of stopping the run.”

Against Michigan Tech’s full starting defensive unit, the Cavaliers appeared to be running into a black brick wall. Even after Tech mixed its defensive lineup with substitutes, the Cavaliers’ final rushing tally was just 35 yards on 20 carries.

“One of the big things was reading their tailback and understanding which way he was going,” Michigan Tech senior linebacker Ben Tauchen said. “Right after that, we’d be able to diagnose the play from there and play fast.”

Cowie threw two more touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game out of reach: a 14-yard pass to Wienke after a play-action pass and handoff, and a 16-yard touchdown to senior John Williams off a screen to give the Huskies a 33-0 lead.

Walsh looked every bit the team selected fifth in the GLIAC South, as Tidwell jumped a post route for an interception after Walsh freshman quarterback Reid Worstell threw late over the middle. Tech senior Nick Brajak also picked off Worstell, but fumbled as he was tackled, allowing Walsh to recover. After the third quarter, Cowie had more touchdown passes (three) than Walsh had first downs (two).

“I thought we played relatively very clean for an opener, and (the opener is) always very scary for me,” Kearly said.

It gets tougher for the Huskies next week. Michigan Tech hosts No. 12 Ferris State on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Sherman Field. Ferris State defeated Ohio Dominican 41-0 on Thursday.

MORAN EXPECTED TO PLAY SATURDAY

One notable starter missing Saturday was junior linebacker Spencer Moran. Moran didn’t dress and was seen on the sideline with his left leg wrapped. But Kearly expects to see Moran against Ferris State.

“Spencer is supposed to practice this week and play, and that’s what we’re hoping,” Kearly said.