HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) – Sophomore Darius Willis corraled two touchdown catches. The Husky defense limited Northern Michigan to 220 yards of total offense as Michigan Tech won its 12th straight Miner’s Cup victory Saturday afternoon at chilly Kearly Stadium in GLIAC football. Senior Braxton Blackwell added a first-half interception, and sophomore Brandon Michalak tacked on a touchdown catch for the Huskies in front of 1,629 fans.
“I’m proud of this group,” Blackwell said. “We prepared the most for this game, which means a lot. It was important for us to come out and play well for four quarters, and I thought we did that today for the first time this season.”
Together, the Huskies counted up to 12 as they received the 20-year-old trophy following the game. Michigan Tech improved to 17-3 since the Cup’s inception in 2002 and is now 49-41-1 overall against the Wildcats in the rivalry dating back to 1920.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said defensive coordinator Bryan Thomas. “Northern did some things we didn’t see on film during the week and battled their tails off out there. So credit to our guys for making the right adjustments and then figuring out a way to win.”
Michigan Tech (3-4, 2-1 GLIAC) battled for field position in a low-scoring first half. Neither team earned a chance in the red zone through two quarters, but senior quarterback Will Ark connected with Willis on a 41-yard catch and ran up the NMU sideline, giving Tech a 7-0 advantage at the break.
Adding to the lead in the third quarter, Ark pitched the ball to his right, and Willis threw a strike to Michalak in the endzone to cap a 5-play, 63-yard drive. Sophomore Drew Wyble tacked on the extra point to make it 14-0.
Following back-to-back punts, Ark assembled an eight-play effort that took more than four minutes of the clock. From the 29-yard line, he rolled out of the pocket to his right and floated a pass over the secondary for Willis again near the front pylon for a 21-0 edge.
The Wildcats put seven on the scoreboard on their ensuing possession. Tyshon King rushed in for a two-yard score to make it 21-7, but that was the closest NMU would come. On fourth down and two, Austin Schlicht stopped Brock Franklin for a three-yard loss at the NMU 31 with 3:55 to play. Then, after picking up a pair of first downs on the ground, Ark kneeled in victory formation for Michigan Tech.
Marc Sippel led the team with 13 tackles (three solos). Blackwell, Michael Bates Jr., and Hunter Buechel tallied six apiece. Both teams punted six times, and Brenden Lach averaged 41.7 yards per punt in a light breeze for MTU. Ark led the Huskies with 12 scrambles for 52 yards. Will Marano rushed 17 times for 48 yards, and Alec Moriarty contributed six runs for 26 yards.
Drake Davis and Zach Keen split quarterback duties for the Wildcats and combined for 173 yards through the air. MTU collected 297 yards of total offense and led 18-11 in first downs.
“Both teams battled hard,” said head coach Steve Olson. “I’m proud of our kids and our staff after an emotional game last week, putting in the hard work in practice and then executing out on the field. This game means a lot to kids around the U.P. growing up. Going out and get that “W” is important to us, and I hope kids watching will want to come and play for Michigan Tech someday. It’s something that the NMU staff and we take great pride in up here.”
The Huskies hit the road to face defending Division II National Champions Ferris State on Saturday, October 22, at 1 p.m. before they return to Houghton to host Grand Valley State in two weeks.