Final showdown: Huskies look to get to .500 with a win over Northwood in finale
HOUGHTON — Saturday will mark the end of the 2018 football season for the Michigan Tech Huskies. Michigan Tech (4-5, 2-5 GLIAC) will face the Timberwolves of Northwood (2-7, 2-5 GLIAC) at Sherman Field and have a chance to end their year at the .500 mark.
The final game comes after a big 35-33 win at Northern Michigan on Oct. 27 and a bye week, which turned out to be perfect timing according to Huskies head coach Steve Olson.
“The priority of the week was to get our guys as healthy as possible as we head into the last game of the season,” he said. “The timing was great as we had a lot of guys who had a lot of bumps and bruises in the Northern game and needed some rest.”
In the Northern game in Marquette, the Huskies rallied from a 14-0 deficit to take a 35-21 lead in the second half. The Wildcats battled back to get within two, but Tech stopped the Wildcats’ offense on a two-point conversion with 49 seconds to play to seal the win.
The Timberwolves enter the last week of the season having dropped two in a row, falling at Wayne State, 55-21, two weeks ago followed by a 31-10 setback at home against Saginaw Valley State last week. Northwood got off to a rough start in 2018, losing the first five games before notching a 27-24 win at Northern Michigan on Oct. 6.
The Timberwolves other victory was a 30-22 triumph over Davenport the following week.
Coach Olson noted that the Timberwolves run a type of “old-school” offense in the form of a double wing option attack. It is similar to the offenses currently employed by Georgia Tech and the Naval Academy at the Division I level. Playing solid assignment football on defense will be a necessity on Saturday to stop them.
A total of 17 players have at least one carry for Northwood in 2018, led by Abdul Levy with a team-high 349 yards on 78 carries. Quarterback Christian Martinez has 206 yards on 93 touches and boasts a team-high three touchdowns.
Martinez has completed 19 passes for 471 yards with four TD’s and three interceptions. His top target this season has been Gary Landless, who owns 15 receptions for 474 yards and three scores. The Timberwolves passing attack is based heavily in play-action.
On defense, they play a base 4-3 with four down linemen and three linebackers. Linebacker Travis Wiltjer has 62 total tackles, one sack, and 6.5 tackles for a loss to help pace the defense. In addition, he has forced a fumble and owns one pass breakup.
In the secondary, Dimitri Abro is not far behind with 59 tackles on the season. Two of the stops have resulted in lost yardage, he has forced two fumbles, intercepted one pass, broken up seven passes, and blocked a kick on special teams. Northwood is giving up 37.7 points per game while scoring 17.6 points per contest.
Saturday’s game will be the 45th overall meeting between the two programs with Northwood holding a slight two game edge at 23-21 following last year’s 29-24 win in Midland. Michigan Tech had won six straight against the Timberwolves prior to the last two contests.
The Huskies’ most recent victory came on Oct. 10, 2015, the last time the game was played in Houghton, by a final score of 30-14. Tech quarterback Brandon Cowie completed 21 of 30 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. John Williams had 99 rushing yards followed by Kevin Miller with 88 yards, helping guide Tech to 439 yards of total offense in the win. With the game tied 7-7 through one quarter, the Huskies pulled away in the second with 17 unanswered points.
Saturday will mark the last football game for a number of Husky seniors. With that in mind, this contest will have its bittersweet moments according to Olson.
“Our seniors are always important to our football program as they show our younger guys how we run our program.” he said. “They set the example as a Michigan Tech Husky. So as our seniors put the gear on for the last time, it will be an emotional moment for our players, fans family and friends.”
Kickoff is at noon at Sherman Field.