COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. – The Michigan Tech football team outscored Ferris State 24-14 in the second half, but couldn't overcome the 28 point first half deficit in a 42-24 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss to third ranked Ferris State at Fifth Third Ballpark. The Huskies battled to end though, scoring 17 of their points in the fourth quarter to close the gap.
"We have to do a better job of coming out early and being ready to get after it right from the get go," Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson said. "One of the things Ferris State has done a good job of this year is putting up a lot of points early on in games. We have to be ready for that and have to do a better job in that area moving forward. As the game wore on, I thought we made some good adjustments and got some big plays from our offense and defense. Our kids played really hard and gave a great effort, but we have to find a way to play right from the start all the way to the end of the game."
Michigan Tech (2-4, 0-4 GLIAC) got the ball first on Saturday and were forced to punt on the opening drive. Ferris State (6-0, 4-0 GLIAC), ranked third in the latest AFCA Division II Top 25 Poll, quickly moved the ball down the field after taking over at Tech's 45-yard line. Quarterback Jayru Campbell connected with tight end Jacob Allen on a three-yard score to make it 7-0.
The Bulldogs would go on to score touchdowns on each of their first three possessions to go up 21-0 with just over three minutes left in the opening quarter. Campbell went up top again for his second touchdown, locating Xavier Wade for a 38-yard score at the 6:11 mark. Jevon Shaw then capped the scoring in the first quarter on a 30-yard pitch play down the left sideline.
The Huskies were able to slow down the Bulldogs a little more in the second quarter. Tech halted Ferris State on downs with 9:38 to play in the half and then sustained a 12 play drive that chewed up nearly six minutes, but unfortunately ended on a missed 45-yard field goal. A couple of drives later, the Bulldogs found the end zone again on a 42-yard drive. On a third and goal play from the Tech 12-yard line, Campbell scrambled away from pressure and bolted up the middle on the ground to make it a 28-0 contest with 19 seconds to go in the half.
The Huskies got the ball back with 19 seconds to play in the second quarter on their 35-yard line and came up just short of the end zone. Sophomore quarterback Will Ark hit senior wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick with a pass to the sidelines for 15 yards. Ark then scrambled to his right two-plays later, firing the ball 37-yards to sophomore wide receiver Jordan Janssen down to the Bulldogs 14. A Ferris State interference penalty took the ball to the eight-yard line, but on the final play freshman running back Jared Smith was tackled at the four-yard as time expired. However, the Huskies carried some confidence into the locker room at halftime to regroup for the third quarter.
The Huskies' defense came up with a big stop of the Bulldogs offense on the opening possession of the second half, forcing an incomplete pass from Campbell on a third and 10 play from the 46-yard line. Following the punt, the Huskies took over on their own 26-yard line and eventually faced a third and three play from their 44. Ark dropped back and tossed a quick pass to the flats to Wenzlick who was matched up man to man with the defender. Junior wide receiver Ben Hartley sprung Wenzlick down the sideline with a key block, enabling Wenzlick to ramble 56-yards for the score. The extra point by freshman kicker Eric Zeboor made it a 28-7 game.
Ferris State however countered with the next two touchdowns on a 10-yard scoring run by Dion Earls and a 37-yard touchdown pass from Campbell to Sy Barnett with 1:58 to go in the third period. The touchdowns moved to the gap to 42-7 with about 17 minutes left in the game.
The Huskies didn't back down and turned in one of their strongest quarters of the season. Tech was back in the end zone on the ensuing possession that covered the final minutes of third quarter and the first three seconds of the fourth quarter. Smith burst ahead on the ground for 13-yards on the opening play and then a 38-yard completion by Ark to Wenzlick led to a three-yard TD run by Smith, his second rushing touchdown of the season.
With the Ferris State offense on the move again at the Tech 28-yard line, senior defensive back Emmanuel Kirkland logged his second interception of the season on a Travis Russell pass play. Kirkland positioned himself between the receiver and the ball in the end zone to deny the Bulldogs seven points. Both of Kirkland's picks this year have been in the end zone with the first coming in the 2018 opener at Truman State.
The Huskies offense then marched down the field starting at the 20-yard line, culminating in a six play 80-yard scoring drive. The key play was a 48-yard pass and catch from Ark to senior wide receiver Kevin Kirkland down the right sideline. Ark then found sophomore wide receiver/tight end Ozzy Corp on a well-executed screen pass from 16-yards out for the touchdown. It was Ark's second TD pass of the game and first career touchdown for Corp that drew the Huskies to within three scores at 42-21.
With time winding down, the Huskies engineered one final scoring drive that was capped by a 24-yard field goal from Zeboor. Freshman quarterback Kyle Wood led the offense on this one, completing four passes to sophomore wide receiver Tyler Urban, including one for 19-yards. Zeboor's third field goal of the season sailed through the uprights with 1:41 to go in the game, resulting in the final tally of 42-24.
Ark led the Huskies offense by completing 17 passes for a season and career high 306 yards while adding two more touchdowns to his 2018 totals. Ark has eight TD strikes and 1,312 yards passing through six games this year. Ark also ran the ball three times for 17 yards. Ark's favorite target was once again Wenzlick, who reeled in six more receptions for 148 yards and his third touchdown of the year. Wenzlick also had a pair of kick returns for 57 yards with the Bulldogs special teams angling the kicks away from him for most of the afternoon.
Smith made his first career start at running back and led the Tech rushing attack, picking up 69 yards on 21 carries while notching his second touchdown of the season. As a team, the Huskies generated a season high 443 yards of total offense, with 357 of those yards coming in the passing game. Tech quarterbacks combined for 21 completions and the offense did not commit a turnover. The offensive line was solid in protection, allowing just one sack.
Defensively, junior linebacker Marvin Wright matched a season and career high with 15 tackles, with two of those stops being quarterback sacks. Wright now owns a team high 10 tackles for a loss in 2018. Freshman defensive back Braxton Blackwell had a career high 12 tackles while sophomore defensive lineman Max Maloney and senior lineman Garrett Ross chipped in with eight tackles and a sack each.
Campbell guided the Ferris State offense, completing 20 of 24 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns. Marvin Campbell was the Bulldogs leading rusher, carrying the ball 11 times for 64 yards. Ferris State had 11 players with at least one carry in Saturday's game. Sy Barnett was the top target for Campbell, reeling in eight passes for 132 yards and one touchdown. The Bulldogs had 616 yards of total offense with the passing and rushing yards nearly divided equally. The Bulldogs had 310 yards on the ground and 306 through the air on 83 total plays.
Defensive lineman Austin Edwards had eight tackles and half a sack to pace Ferris State in stops. Avote Bell followed with four tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, and two quarterback hurries. Omari McCauley chipped in five tackles and there were a host of other defenders with four tackles each.
The Huskies will look to bounce back next Saturday when they host Wayne State on Hall of Fame Weekend at Sherman Field. The kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.