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PREVIEW: Huskies Host 2nd Ranked Ferris State Saturday

Jacob Wenzlick running the football

Michigan Tech Game Notes (PDF)    Ferris State Game Notes (PDF)
Sat., Nov. 2, 2019 • 1:00 p.m. (ET) • Sherman Field at Kearly Stadium (3,200)
Michigan Tech (4-3, 2-3 GLIAC) vs Ferris State (8-0, 6-0 GLIAC)
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Radio Broadcast: WKMJ 93.5 FM (Josh Ylitalo)
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The Huskies suffered a tough 21-12 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss at Ashland University last Saturday. The Huskies fell behind 21-0 in the third quarter, but battled back with a couple of touchdowns in the second half to get within striking distance. Tech had 407 yards of total offense, generated two sacks, and blocked an Eagles field goal. The Huskies enter their eighth game of the season with an overall record of 4-3 and 2-3 mark in the conference.

Junior Will Ark and freshman Steele Fortress combined to complete 22 passes for 251 yards in Saturday's game. Fortress played the second half and ended the day with 156 of those yards while adding a touchdown and 45 more yards on the ground. Sophomore Jared Smith was Tech's leading rusher, carrying the ball 12 times for 77 yards and one touchdown. Freshman running back William Marano had a game high 59 yards on four receptions followed by junior fullback Jordan Ferguson with 58 yards on four catches. Senior Ben Hartley had a team high five receptions for 56 yards.

Senior linebacker Marshael Ryan had a team high 10 tackles, including a tackle for a loss to pace the Huskies' defense. Senior defensive back Glacier Wallington followed with nine stops and one tackle for a loss. Four players combined to produce two sacks for the defense in Saturday's contest. Sophomore's Tai Allen and Braxton Blackwell along with junior's Nate LaJoie and Taylor Pelton each had a half sack.

The Michigan Tech running backs continued to shine this past weekend at Ashland University. This week, they emerged as threats both in the running and the passing games. Smith averaged 6.4 yards per carry on his way to 77 total yards and his third rushing touchdown of the season. He had two catches for an additional 16 yards. The top two pass catchers where tailback William Marano and fullback Jordan Ferguson. They each had four receptions and 59 and 58 yards respectively.

The quarterback sacks and tackles for a loss continue to rise for the Michigan Tech defense in 2019. The Huskies have gotten to the opposing signal caller two times or more in each of the first seven games of the year. Tech racked up six sacks against both Saginaw Valley State (Sep. 21) and Grand Valley State (Sep. 28) in back to back weeks. Last week at Ashland, the Huskies generated six more tackles for a loss, giving them 52 for the season. Tech now has 27 sacks which is just three shy of the single season school record of 30 set in 2007. The Huskies lead the GLIAC in sacks while ranking 8th in NCAA Division II in that category. Tech is second in the conference and 22nd nationally in tackles for a loss. Individually, LaJoie paces the GLIAC in total sacks at 7.5, which is 8th best in all of division two.

The Huskies blocked their first kick of the 2019 season this past Saturday at Ashland University. It helped setup Tech's second touchdown of the afternoon during the bid to make a comeback. Freshman Michael Munderloh got his hand on a field goal attempt by Eagles' kicker Satchel Denton with 11:23 to play in the fourth quarter. It was Munderloh's first career blocked kick. As a team, the Huskies blocked five kicks a year ago with the most recent field goal block taking place in the 2018 season finale at home against Northwood. Mattias Hoehnen got his hand on the football in that contest.

Ferris State is ranked second in the latest AFCA Coaches' Poll as they bring an overall record of 8-0 and 6-0 in the GLIAC into Sherman Field at Kearly Stadium on Saturday. The Bulldogs are also the top ranked team in the first NCAA Division II Super Region Three Poll that was released earlier this week. The Bulldogs lead the conference in numerous statistical categories, including points per game (40.5), total yards per game (499.1), passing yards per game (236.0), and rushing yards per game (263.1) Although the Bulldogs like to spread the field with four wide receivers, they still look to keep the ball on the ground a fair amount of the time. On the defensive side of the ball, Ferris State ranks second in the conference in fewest yards given up per game (266.3). Meanwhile, they allow the fewest points per game to opponents (15.1) and have 11 interceptions which is second most in the GLIAC.

Senior quarterback Jayru Campbell leads the offense, completing 64 passes for 1,306 yards and 10 touchdowns. The top receiver for Ferris State is Sy Barnett who has reeled in 24 receptions for 633 yards and five touchdowns. Evan Cummings, who is listed as a quarterback, is the top rusher on the team with 398 yards and eight touchdowns on the year. Running back Marvin Campbell isn't far behind with 377 yards on 89 carries and six scores. The Bulldogs have four players with six or more rushing touchdowns this season.  Defensively, linebackers Avonte Bell and Sam Heyboer are the top tacklers on the club with 39 apiece. Defensive end Austin Edwards has 5.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for a loss while defensive back James Ceasar owns a team best five interceptions.

Michigan Tech enters the weekend with a 34-30-4 lead in the all-time series between the two programs. However, the Bulldogs have had the upper hand in each of the last seven games, including a 42-24 decision last season on October 6th in a neutral site game at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, Michigan. Prior to Ferris State's run of seven straight wins, the Huskies prevailed in nine consecutive games from 2003-2011. The most recent win came via a 41-14 decision at Sherman Field on November 5th, 2011. The Huskies built a 27-7 lead at halftime that day and never looked back. Quarterback Tyler Scarlett was 21 of 27 passing for 211 yards and two touchdowns while Akeem Cason carried the ball 17 times for 117 yards and two scores. The first game in the series was played on October 18th, 1947 in Houghton with FSU coming away with a 2-0 win. There have been four ties, with the most recent a 7-7 result on September 13th, 1980 in Houghton.

Single game VIP Tailgate tickets can be purchased for Saturday's game against Ferris State. Fans must hurry because sales close Thursday night at 8:30 PM eastern time. Tickets are priced at $40 each and includes free parking, free game program, the VIP buffet, and four beverages. The VIP area opens at 11:30 a.m. and food will be served until the end of the first quarter.

Saturday's game will feature a Keweenaw Chevrolet vehicle promotion at halftime. Fans can stop by and get a ticket, located at each entrance, before kickoff for a chance to win a $25,000 vehicle from Keweenaw Chevrolet.

The Michigan Tech Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) will be collecting new or gently used hats, mittens, and other winter apparel for donation to the Salvation Army in Hancock at Saturday's game against Ferris State. This is the first of four events that SAAC will be conducting the campaign. The other events will be volleyball's match against the Bulldogs on Friday November 8 followed by both games of the Huskies' WCHA hockey series with Minnesota State November 8 and 9. In addition to these collection events, donation bins will be placed in the administration building by the elevators and at the SDC by the ticket office. These bins will be in these locations until November 11 to collect donations.

The Huskies named their four captains for the 2019 season prior to the start of the regular season. This year's captains, selected by a team vote, are offensive lineman Jeremy Bell, defensive back Travis Tidwell, wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick, and linebacker Marshael Ryan. All four players are entering their senior year with the Huskies.

Michigan Tech leads the GLIAC and is eighth in NCAA Division II in sacks (27), second in passing yards per game (214.7), is second in time of possession (31:58), third in fumble recoveries (6), second in fourth down conversions (13-20), third in punting (40.4), and first in punt return average (11.4). The Huskies are first in the GLIAC (5th NCAA II) in fewest sacks allowed (4) and tackles for a loss allowed (21) (2nd NCAA II). Nate LaJoie is tops in the conference (8th NCAA II) in total sacks with 7.5, LaJoie is first in tackles for a loss (11.5) (26th NCAA II), Xavier Ciardo is fifth in sacks (4.5) and Ark is second in the conference (17th NCAA II) in punting (41.7) and is fourth in the conference in passing yards per game (187.7).

Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson is getting set to embark on his third season at the reigns of the program when the Huskies kickoff their season Saturday at Hillsdale. The Huskies went 4-6 in 2018, but retained the Miner's Cup for the ninth straight year with a 35-33 win at Northern Michigan. This will be Olson's ninth overall season as a coach at Tech. He served as the defensive coordinator for three seasons prior to being selected as the head coach for the 2017 season.

The Huskies welcomed Jace Daniels to the coaching staff as the new offensive line coach during the offseason. Daniels, a native of Escanaba, Michigan, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Huskies staff. Over the past two seasons at Northern Michigan, Daniels led an offensive line that created running lanes for Jake Mayon who earned Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Back of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons. Three of his offensive linemen garnered All-Conference accolades during his two seasons. Daniels helped coach a Northern Michigan offense that ranked second in the GLIAC during the 2018 campaign in rushing yards per game (241.8), yards per carry (5.0), rushing touchdowns (29), and first downs gained on the ground (146). The total offensive yardage for the Wildcats this past season was the third most in the GLIAC at 381.1 yards per game.

The Huskies play their final road game of the 2019 season when they head to Detroit to take on Wayne State University next weekend. The Warriors are 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the GLIAC going into their ninth game of the season Saturday at Davenport. Wayne State has won two games in a row and five of their last six after an 0-2 start to the season. The Warriors defeated Northwood last weekend 31-10 in Detroit.