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College football: MTU seeks win in first-ever game vs. McKendree

Huskies visit Bearcats in Illinois for Saturday’s game

HOUGHTON — The Michigan Tech Huskies are on the road once again this week as they take on the McKendree University Bearcats in Illinois on Saturday.

The Huskies enter Week 2 after a 29-14 win over the Hillsdale Chargers a week ago. The Huskies held the Chargers to 160 yards of total offense and negative nine yards rushing. It was the Huskies tenth straight season-opener win.

“I thought we did a very nice job of handling both sides of the ball and getting a win against a very good team,” said MTU head coach Steve Olson. “Our guys did an excellent job of executing the fundamentals of the game.”

Kickoff between the Huskies and Bearcats is set for 1 p.m Saturday at Leemon field in Lebanon, just 26 miles from St. Louis.

Olson added that he was particularly pleased with the way the Huskies dominated the possession time of the football. The Huskies had control of the ball for 41 minutes while the Bearcats possessed it for just 19.

“I was very pleased with the fact that were able to control the ball for the last eight minutes and then take a knee to end the game,” he said. “To finish strong like that is a shot of confidence for our players.”

With the win, the Huskies garnished a handful of votes in the first regular season.

American Football Coaches Association Division II Coaches’ poll. They were one of five teams in their Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to receive votes this week.

While accolades are nice, Olson said he is more worried about securing another victory this week and putting his team at 2-0 before entering GLIAC play.

The Bearcats enter Saturdays contest at 0-1. They suffered a 30-9 loss on the road at Northern Michigan University on Week 1. A year ago, they were 6-5 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

“We are expecting a hard-fought game,” Olson said. “McKendree is a very good team offensively that scored a lot of points last year. They have a lot returners in key spots from last year. Among them are four very active linemen.”

Their special teams is one of the Bearcats stronger points. Junior kicker Josh Lazaro set a school record a year ago with 83 points. He was 44-49 in extra-point attempts and 13-16 from field-goal range.

Senior Matt Cole also set a new school record a year ago as the Bearcats’ kick off and punt returner. In 2018, Cole amassed 708 kick-return yards. He ran for more than 35 yards per kick return which placed him among the NCAA II leaders for football.

“We are going to have to travel well, get ready to play and take care of business,” Olson said.

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