Huskies hold on in overtime for win

Dave Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette Michigan Tech’s Cody Goldsworthy drives through Hillsdale’s offensive line in pursuit of quarterback Chance Stewart (8) during a game at Sherman Field Saturday.

HOUGHTON — One could not have asked for a better day to kick off the 2018 home season for the Michigan Tech Huskies’ football team. With the sun shining, and temperatures in the mid-60s at Sherman Field, the Huskies pulled off a 31-30 overtime win over the Hillsdale Chargers.

It was the Huskies’ first overtime victory at Sherman since a 39-38 overtime win against Tiffin in October 2015.

“It was an awfully exciting game,” said head coach Steve Olson. “I am of course proud of our kids continuing to battle and continuing to be resilient.”

The Huskies got on the board first 10:23 into the game with a two-point safety. The Hillsdale center launched a bad snap over the head of their quarterback Chance Stewart and into the end zone, which was pounced on by several Huskies players.

Less than six minutes later, the Huskies added to their total with an 11-play, 80-yard march downfield.

It was led by Huskies running back James Henderson, who finished the day with 28 carries for 120 yards. He brought the Huskies within the 2-yard line. Quarterback Will Ark then plowed through the line for a touchdown.

The Chargers came right back with a plan of their own. They mounted a four-play, 65-yard, scoring attack. Stewart hit tight end Martin Petersen, who was wide open in the middle of the field, and then dashed his way in for a 27-yard touchdown.

Not to be deterred, the Huskies countered with a 65-yard drive on just three plays, all within a minute. Ark threw a perfect spiral to Ben Hartley for 35 yards. This was followed by a 12-yard run down the left side of the field by Jared Smith for the score.

“Will (Ark) is turning into a fine quarterback for us each and every game and practice,” said Olson. “I expect him to get better and continue to be a leader on the field for us as he showed us today.”

At the half, the Huskies led 16-14.

“Both teams knew how to attack each other on both sides of the ball,” said Olson. “They are a challenging offense, and always have been. I was happy to head into the locker room ahead.”

Olson also praised his punter Mike James. James had four attempts for a total of 166 yards. Two of his kicks pinned the Chargers behind their 20-yard line.

“A punter is usually an unsung hero. But Mike works hard and he’s a competitor,” Olson said. “He put the ball where we needed it to be.”

Despite a blocked Hillsdale punt by Huskies linebacker Marvin Wright to start the third quarter, momentum swung the Chargers’ direction as they controlled the ball much of the 15 minutes. They went ahead in the game thanks to a touchdown with just 1:05 left after a one-yard scamper by David Graham.

In the fourth quarter, the Chargers tacked three more on the board with a Joe Philipp 21-yard field goal. With that, the Hillsdale squad had their largest lead of the game at 24-16.

Things only got worse for the hosts as, on their possession after the field goal, Ark threw an interception. Fortunately, while the Chargers got the ball down to the Huskies’ 21-yard line, they couldn’t convert on a fourth and five.

The Huskies put together a 70-yard drive which included a 31-yard dash by running back James Henderson right through the Huskies’ offensive line.

A set of downs later he was in the end zone with six points. Ark rushed in for two more and the score was tied at 24, forcing overtime

“When we took over and marched down the field that was the key to the game,” said Olson.

In college football overtime, there is no clock. A coin is tossed and the winner takes the ball on the 25-yard line and does what it can to score. In this case, the Huskies did just that first. At second and goal Will Ark pulled a quarterback sneak across the goal line. Eric Zeebor booted in the extra point.

Hillsdale countered as they had all afternoon. Stewart connected with wide receiver Austin Sandusky for a 13-yard touchdown pass. However, Philipp’s extra point went far left and the Huskies’ fans and the band went wild.

“That blew me away,” said Ark. “I was ready to go back onto the field, but we’ll take it. What a great finish.”

The Huskies will look to extend their season-opening streak against the Davenport Panthers at 1 p.m. Saturday at Sherman Field.