If you weren't one of the 4,684 fans at Sherman Field Saturday night - or you were and left early - it's almost impossible to describe just how different Michigan Tech's football team looked from the first half to the second half in its 51-43 loss.
Shoving political correctness aside, in the first half, the Huskies were simply terrible. Granted, No. 3 Grand Valley State can make a lot of teams look that way, but Tech couldn't do anything right.
They failed to establish any semblance of a consistent rushing game, as evidenced by the 34 total rushing yards all game. Quarterback Tyler Scarlett missed receivers by 5 yards high, left, right, short in a 1-for-8 start. When he did hit his receivers in the hands, Tech wideouts flat out dropped the ball. Even Tech's league-leading defense surrendered 176 yards of offense in the first 15 minutes.
Yeah, if that sounds pretty bad, brace yourself for this: The Huskies gained 13 yards of offense in the first 22:18. GVSU had 27 points during that span. Ouch.
Tech finally found its footing a bit with a desperately needed scoring drive 3:36 before halftime. Seemingly out of nowhere, Scarlett finally hooked up with Pat Carroll and Bryan LaChapelle on 33- and 35-yard completions on back-to-back plays, setting up the first of four Matt Curtin touchdown catches.
But, with a 37-7 halftime deficit that only grew to 51-14 with 3:51 left in the third quarter, fans started giving up on any chance of a Husky comeback.
Fortunately for the fans who gutted it out, their Huskies did not give up.
"In defense of our kids, we played until the bitter end. That was the point we made at halftime," Tech coach Tom Kearly said. "We weren't ready to play or didn't play very well at all in the first half, so we made a pledge we were going to play the last 30 and we played hard."
Perhaps Kearly should bottle up whatever he said during that halftime, because it lit a fire under his squad.
"Coach gave a wonderful speech at halftime, got us rallied back, and we just made big plays in the second half," said Akeem Cason, whose 98-yard kickoff return touchdown fanned Tech's comeback flames.
"(Kearly) said there's two ways we can go. We can either lay down or fight back and get back in the ballgame, and that's what we did. We scratched and clawed and climbed our way back into it," said Curtin, whose three second-half touchdowns opened the door for a near-miracle finish.
The 29-point outburst in just over a quarter just about says it all, but consider the Huskies put up 200 yards of fourth-quarter offense.
"I think we took more chances - we had to," Kearly said.
GVSU no doubt played softer in its secondary, but no scheme considerations or statistics could accurately portray how bizarre Tech's comeback probably seemed to those in attendance. Take the first quarter and switch the uniforms.
Call it crazy, call it bizarre, call it entertaining - and it was all three - but there's really only one thing Tech is calling it: a loss.
The Huskies were a halfway decent first half away from being 4-0 heading into this Saturday's rivalry game at the Superior Dome.
Fortunately, their next game is against Northern Michigan (0-4, 1-4 GLIAC), and if you can't get up for a rivalry game, what can you get up for?
Preaching a 60-minute effort shouldn't be too hard either for Kearly and his staff
Stephen Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/steander.