HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech football team finished the 2019 season strong with an impressive 34-21 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win over Northwood University Saturday afternoon at Sherman Field at Kearly Stadium. The Huskies racked up a season high 585 yards of total offense and tied the single season school record for sacks with two, giving them 30 on the year.
"Northwood is a football team that always comes in and plays hard and we knew it was going to be a tough game," Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson said. "We faced some adversity and I thought our guys really stepped up to make some great plays. I was extremely happy with our ability to run the football throughout the game and that created opportunities for us to do a lot of different things. Defensively, I thought we did a pretty good job in the run game and with the lead we were able to pin our ears back and get after the quarterback and apply pressure.
"I'm very proud of this group of 18 seniors and each of them have worked very hard to be leaders in our program. These student-athletes will now go out and be leaders in their workplace and communities. They will be great family men and we are very proud of what they did this year and throughout their careers at Tech. It's a very good group and it has been a lot of fun to coach them."
Michigan Tech (5-5, 3-5 GLIAC) jumped in front with the first 13 points in Saturday's game against Northwood (1-10, 1-7 GLIAC). The Huskies received the opening kickoff and marched 72 yards on 13 plays, with the drive culminating on a 26-yard field goal by senior Evan Gornick to make it 3-0. Junior quarterback Will Ark found freshman running back William Marano on a screen pass for 39 yards which helped put things in motion. It occurred on a third down and 11 play at the Tech 18-yard line to keep the drive alive.
Gornick connected on another triple which capped another lengthy and time-consuming drive in the early moments of the second quarter. The Huskies moved the ball 71 yards this time on 13 plays and took 7:32 off the clock. Tech converted a third and 15 play with a 17-yard pass by Ark to senior Tyler Urban to move the chains. The drive stalled at the Timberwolves two-yard line, but Gornick's kick made it a 6-0 score with 7:49 to play in the half.
Tech's defense continued to shut down the Northwood offense and following a punt the Huskies had the ball back at their 30-yard line with 5:45 to go until the break. Ark connected with senior wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick on a 31-yard pass play which helped setup a three-yard touchdown run courtesy of freshman running back Emmett Boehler with 1:46 remaining in the second quarter. Gornick's extra point gave the Huskies a 13-0 lead which they took into the locker room at halftime.
The Timberwolves got themselves back into the game with just under seven minutes to play in the third quarter when quarterback Nate Gomez scrambled to avoid pressure and found Christian Martinez in the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown pass to make it 13-7. The Huskies answered with another seven-yard touchdown run by Boehler at the 11:33 mark of the fourth quarter, extending Tech's lead out to 13 points again at 20-7. The two teams would combine to put 35 points on the board in the final frame.
The Timberwolves struck back quickly with a 66-yard touchdown pass from Gomez to Tajae Leslie with 9:49 showing on the clock. The extra point made it a 20-14 score in favor of Tech and Northwood would not go quietly. However, the Huskies went up top for a big play in the passing game as Ark delivered a strike to Wenzlick on a deep out pattern. Wenzlick bolted down the sideline for a 73-yard touchdown and suddenly the Huskies were up 27-14.
The Timberwolves once again clawed their way back on the next possession and this time Justin Cook carried the ball across the goal line from one-yard out. The touchdown run made it a 27-21 game with 6:37 still to play in the final period. The Huskies dashed any dreams of a comeback by Northwood when Ark found Wenzlick again for a touchdown on the ensuing drive. This time it was from 12 yards out and with Gornick's extra point the Huskies held a 34-21 lead that they would not relinquish.
Junior defensive lineman Nate LaJoie capped the afternoon when he sacked Gomez on Northwood's final drive, tying the single season school record of 30 sacks which was established in 2007. LaJoie ended the 2019 campaign with a team high 8.5 sacks.
Ark ended the day completing 20 of 26 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns to wrap up a solid season. Wenzlick closed his career with a tremendous game Saturday, reeling in six receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Jared Smith carried the ball 25 times for 172 yards while Boehler added 54 yards on nine carries with two scores. The Huskies had 585 yards of total offense, with 268 yards coming on the ground and 317 yards through the air. Tech also dominated in time of possession, holding the ball for 41:17 compared to 18:43 for Northwood.
LaJoie paced the defense with seven tackles, including a sack, 1.5 tackles for a loss, and a quarterback hurry. Senior linebacker Marshael Ryan had six tackles while sophomore Braxton Blackwell had four tackles, a half sack, and a forced fumble. Senior Xavier Ciardo teamed up with Blackwell for the other half sack, giving the Huskies two for the game.
Gomez completed 6 of 19 passing attempts for 142 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Northwood offense. Leslie had 70 yards receiving on two catches with one score while adding 42 yards on two rushing plays. Dimitri Abro had a game high 15 tackles, which included a sack and 1.5 tackles for a loss in Saturday's game. Luke Bakker and Erik Santiago each followed with 13 stops apiece.
The Huskies wrapped the 2019 season 5-5 overall and finished fifth in the GLIAC standings. Tech will now head into the offseason as they prepare for the 2020 campaign next fall.