Story and photo courtesy of Michigan Tech Athletics
HOUGHTON, Mich. - The Michigan Tech football team controlled both sides of the ball in a 35-10 victory over previously undefeated Findlay today at Sherman Field. Tech (3-0 overall, 3-0 GLIAC) racked up 385 yards of total offense while limiting the Oilers (2-1, 2-1) to just 10 points (27 points below their 37.0 average).
"We beat a good football team today," said head coach Tom Kearly. "Our kids played hard. We got stops on defense and answered when the scored. We did the little things you need to do to win."
The Huskies continued to pound the ball on the ground for a third straight game. Four different ball carriers had at least 40 yards for a team total of 228. That also allowed the hosts to eat up 38:12 off the clock.
Turnovers played a critical part of the first half. Tech's defense gave up 50-plus yards on Findlay's opening drive, but linebacker Paul Kuoppala intercepted a Clay Belton pass at his own 13-yard line and returned it 37 yards to set up Tech's offense at midfield.
Ten plays later, Cedrick Barber's 3-yard TD rush capped a 10-play drive and put Tech on top 7-0.
Findlay drove to a first-and-goal at the Tech nine on the ensuing drive, but had to settle for a 24-yard field goal after the Huskies' defense got the stop.
Tech put seven more points on the board on its next drive after making two big plays to extend the drive. Quarterback Tyler Scarlett scrambled for 24 yards on a third-and 23 at midfield, then converted fourth-and-nine with a 29-yard completion to Bryan LaChapelle. Barber scored his second touchdown of the day for a 14-3 lead.
Scarlett tossed his first interception of the season early in the second quarter as he underthrew a screen pass. Tech's defense forced the Oilers to turn the ball over on downs four plays later. Then with just 16 seconds remaining in the half, fullback Cole Welch plowed into the endzone from a yard out to top a nine-play drive and send the Huskies into halftime with a 21-3 lead.
Findlay got back into the game after Tech fumbled its opening drive of the second half. The Oilers marched 47 yards for their only touchdown of the day, a 10-yard slant pass from Belton to Seth White.
The Black and Gold responded by driving 70 yards in 16 plays. Running back Charlie Leffingwell carried the ball six times for 28 yards on the drive including the scoring play from one yard out. Findlay would only get the ball inside the Tech 45 once the rest of the game, and that was a turnover on downs in the fourth quarter.
Akeem Cason accounted for Tech's final touchdown of the day—a 19-yard carry on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
Tech defenders harassed UF quarterback Belton all day. The 6-6, 230-pound Maryland transfer came in as the reigning GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week, but was sacked twice, hurried three more times and intercepted twice. He completed just 20-of-48 passes for 219 yards (after entering with a 322 yards-per-game average).
Free safety Emmett Bjorn led the defensive effort with 10 tackles and two pass breakups. Jeremy Mims had seven tackles and an interception.
Leffingwell paced the Tech rushing attack for the third straight game with 83 yards on 21 carries. Scarlett (64 yards), Cason (42) and Barber (42) all chipped in with significant totals.
Scarlett completed 14-of-21 passes for 157 yards and was ultra efficient in helping the Huskies convert an incredible 8-of-12 third downs and 2-of-2 fourth downs.
Michigan Tech will play its third home game in four weeks when it hosts No. 3-ranked Grand Valley State next Saturday (Sept. 29). In a battle of undefeated teams (the Lakers are 3-0 heading into tonight's game vs. Ohio Dominican), the Huskies hope to set the Sherman Field attendance record. Tickets will be sold for $5 for adults and $3 for children beginning Monday at noon. Game time next Saturday is 6 p.m.—Tech's second-ever night game.