PREVIEW: Huskies play Wildcats for Miner’s Cup Saturday – michigantechhuskies.com

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PREVIEW: Huskies play Wildcats for Miner's Cup Saturday Play Video

HOUGHTON, Mich. – Michigan Tech football aims for its 11th straight Miner’s Cup victory Saturday against Northern Michigan (3-3, 1-1) at 12 p.m. EST at Superior Dome. It will be the 94th meeting between the two rivals in games dating back to 1920. The Huskies enter the game on a two-game win streak. The game can be heard locally on Mix 93.5 WKMJ with Josh Ylitalo (play-by-play) and TV6 television with Dave Ellis. 

LAST TIME OUT

Drew Wyble kicked a 26-yard field goal as time expired to lift Michigan Tech football over Wayne State 30-27 at Tom Adams Stadium Saturday night. Quarterback Will Ark commanded a 14 play, 76-yard final drive to put the Huskies in position to win over the final 5 minutes, 45 seconds of the fourth quarter.

A tight game throughout, Ark connected with wide receiver Darius Willis for a pair of fade route touchdowns and running back William Marano also ran in for a score. Wayne State posted 556 yards of total offense but Tech made more plays in critical moments to steal victory on Warrior homecoming. A key turning point came with 10:59 of the fourth quarter. Tied 27-27, Wayne State’s Myren Harris broke loose for 85 yards but Kevin Lee forced a fumble on the Husky nine-yard line. Fred Kemp scooped it and ran 18 yards for Tech on the turnover. Kevin Lee and Marvin Wright led the defense with eight tackles each.

MINER’S CUP HISTORY

Saturday’s showdown marks the 19th anniversary of the Miner’s Cup which was created in 2002 through the efforts of the Michigan Tech Athletics Department and its Army ROTC. The Miner’s Cup Trophy is made from an authentic miner’s helmet which is mounted on a wooden base. The helmet was found in a Houghton area antique shop. The Trophy has been in Houghton since the 2010 season as the Huskies enter the weekend with 10 straight wins in the series.

SERIES VS NORTHERN MICHIGAN

Michigan Tech leads the all-time series with Northern Michigan 47-41-5 which began with a 20-13 Huskies victory in Marquette on October 16, 1920. Tech is 16-4 against the Wildcats since 2000 and is 15-3 in Miner’s Cup games going into the weekend. Tech defeated NMU 24-20 in their last meeting, October 12, 2019 at Sherman Field. 

The Huskies pulled ahead for the last time with 7:24 to play in the fourth quarter. On the winning drive, quarterback Will Ark found senior wide receiver Ben Hartley for 22 yards after starting out on the NMU 45-yard line. Hartley eventually hauled in a 10-yard reception for the touchdown.

The Huskies finished with 467 yards of total offense. Smith powered the ground game with 76 yards on 22 carries. John Paramski collected eight tackles and Nate LaJoie tallied one sack.

SCOUTING THE WILDCATS

– The Wildcats are markedly improved in 2021, with wins over McKendree (27-20), Davenport (20-14), and Wayne State (26-19). Head coach Kyle Nystrom is in his fourth season at the helm. Ranked seventh in the 2021 GLIAC Preseason Coaches Poll, the Wildcats returned their leading rusher and 2019 All-GLIAC honorable mention Tyson King to the roster. 

– During the 2019 season, King led NMU in rushing with 647 yards on 143 rushes. Also returning is senior Deandre Caldwell who has rushed for 756 and two touchdowns in his Wildcat career. 

– Benjamin Loutsis, who was tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns, total receptions, and receptions per game in 2019, returned to the NMU passing game this season. The 2018 All-GLIAC Honorable Mention honoree played in all 10 games his sophomore season and had 28 receptions for 381 yards.

– On Saturday, the Wildcats fell 18-13 to Davenport on the road. Drake Davis was 16-27 for 135 at quarterback. He also contributed 25 yards on the ground with a long of 11 yards. DJ Stewart was the top rusher with 31 yards and a touchdown. Jake Witt had 44 yards receiving. Anthony Howard had one kickoff return for 35 yards. Tavion McCarthy broke up a team-high four passes in the game.

LEADING NCAA DIVISION II IN SACKS PER GAME

– For the second week in a row, the Huskies lead NCAA Division II in sacks per game (5.00). West Chester (4.83), Chowan (4.67), No. 1 West Florida (4.60), and No. 23 Western Colorado (4.50) round out the top five. Amongst GLIAC competition, Nate LaJoie (4.5 sacks), Austin Schlicht (4.5 sacks), and Josh Cribben (4.0 sacks) rank second through fourth individually for the category. Nose tackle Nate Lajoie is up to 13.0 career sacks, 8.5 short of the Huskies all-time record holder Tony Roberson (1999-2002).

STAYING OUT OF TROUBLE

– Michigan Tech has accumulated the second least penalty yards in NCAA Division II (156). The Huskies have been flagged 18 times through five games. Saturday, Tech was called for three penalties (25 yards) while Wayne State racked up 11 penalties for 105 yards.

UNDER CENTER

– Quarterback Will Ark completed 16 of 40 passes at Wayne State for 139 yards. He had two touchdown passes to Darius Willis in the back, right corner of the endzone on nearly identical plays and threw a season-high two interceptions. 

– Ark ranks No. 4 in the GLIAC with 154.0 passing yards per game. Saginaw Valley State’s Mark Considine (197.2 ypg) leads the category. Ark is also tied for second in touchdowns (seven). His three interceptions ranks fifth lowest among starters.

TACKLE LEADERS

– Linebacker Marvin Wright tops the team with 41.0 tackles (eighth) with Braxton Blackwell (37.0 – 11th), Josh Cribben (31.0 – 16th), Fred Kemp (31.0 – 16th), and John Paramski (31.0 – 16th) rounding out the top five.

RUSHING LEADERS

– William Marano has handled the bulk of the rush attempts over the past three weeks. Marano ranks ninth in the conference at 48.8 rushing yards per game. Marano ran the football 20 times for 73 yards and one touchdown Saturday at Wayne State. 

– Senior Jared Smith remains a viable option along with Marano. Smith posted 63 yards on the ground in the season opener against Hillsdale. He had four opportunities and rushed for 17 yards last weekend. 

TEAM COMPARISON

MICHIGAN TECH

CATEGORY

NORTHERN MICHIGAN

263.0 (8th)

Yards Per Game

308.8 (4th)

157.8 (6th)

Passing Yards Per Game

166.0 (5th)

105.2 (8th)

Rushing Yards Per Game

142.8 (4th)

32% (8th)

Third Down Conversions

33% (4th)

14.5 (3rd)

Average Return Yardage

3.3 (8th)

25 (1st)

Sacks

14 (T-3rd)

31.2 (1st)

Penalty Yards Per Game

67.0 (T-3rd)

ALL-TIME SERIES

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

The Huskies have two GLIAC Championships (2004, 2012) and two NCAA Tournament appearances (2004, 2014) in their 98-year history. Michigan Tech went 2-0 under head coach E.R. Lovell in their first season in 1920. The last time the Huskies finished first in the conference standings was 2004 under head coach Bernie Anderson. The entire 2020 fall season was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic (Covid-19). 

ON THE RADIO

– Mix 93.5 FM WKMJ will broadcast all 10 football games again this season. Josh Ylitalo will call all the action from the Kearly Stadium press box and travel with the squad.

WATCH THE GAMES

– Visit MichiganTechHuskies.com to watch the 2021 home matches live and on-demand via Stretch Internet Portal.

-Fan can watch all six 2021 fall home football games for $75.

PRESEASON GLIAC POLL

-Michigan Tech was picked to finish 5th (24 points) in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Pre-season Coaches’ Poll, announced by the conference office.