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College football: Huskies hold off Bearcats, 24-19

LEBANON, Ill. — The Michigan Tech football team held back McKendree University for a 24-19 non-conference win Saturday afternoon on the road.

The Huskies (2-0) used all three phases of the game to secure their second consecutive road with to start the year. The defense had two more interceptions which led to 10 points.

The Huskies led by as much as 21-7 before McKendree came back in the third quarter.

“It wasn’t a pretty game, but to go on the road for the second week in a row and get a win was huge for our team,” Michigan Tech head coach Steve Olson said. “I’m extremely happy to be 2-0 and proud of our players for overcoming some adversity. We had a number of players step up and make some outstanding plays against a good McKendree team to close out the game and get the win.”

Running back Jared Smith had a key run of 22 yards and on a second and goal play from the three-yard line, wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick took an end around play to the right and into the end zone for the score. The drive consumed 7:55 off the third quarter clock.

The Bearcats drew the score within one possession when Turner Pullen connected with Kyle Harris for a 17-yard touchdown pass with 4:50 left in the third.

Tech’s second interception of the day helped pushed the lead back out to two possessions late in the fourth quarter. Pullen’s pass over the middle was intercepted by safety Tai Allen and returned 31-yards to the McKendree 23-yard line. Evan Gornick eventually blasted his second field goal of the season through the goal post with 6:10 to go in the contest, making it 24-13.

The Bearcats didn’t go quietly and kept themselves within striking distance thanks to a nine play 70-yard drive. Pullen tossed his second touchdown pass of the day, finding Tyler Siever in the end zone from 12 yards away. The two-point conversion failed, keeping the Huskies on top by five points at 24-19.

The Huskies defense halted McKendree’s final drive late in the fourth quarter. Tech pressured Pullen to force errant throws and made him uncomfortable in the pocket. Defensive lineman Brendan Thompson recorded his first career sack, helping to slow McKendree’s drive. The Huskies were then able to take a knee and run out the clock to lock down the win.

Michigan Tech generated 325 yards of total offense with 188 yards coming on the ground. The Huskies were 4 for 4 in the red zone and 3 for 3 on fourth-down conversions.

“On the offensive side of the ball I thought we ran the ball effectively at times and put together some solid drives, especially the one to start the second half,” Olson said. “Turnovers are always a big key in any football game in terms of taking care of the football on offense while creating takeaways on the defensive side of the ball.”

The Huskies opened the third quarter with the ball and engineered a textbook 13 play 68-yard drive to make it 21-7.

Ark completed 10 passes for 137 yards while rushing the ball 13 times for 73 yards and one touchdown. Smith added 59 yards on 14 carries while Emmett Boehler logged 37 yards on 12 carries Saturday afternoon. Wide receiver Ben Hartley paced the Huskies in receptions for the second straight week, reeling in five catches for 84 yards.

The Huskies visit Saginaw Valley State for their Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener. The Cardinals are also 2-0 to start the year after defeating Tiffin 35-20. Kickoff is 1:30 p.m. EDT.

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