HOUGHTON – The Michigan Tech Huskies football team returns to the friendly confines of Kearly Stadium this Saturday to face an unknown opponent in the Minot State Beavers in their final non-conference game. The Huskies come into the weekend fresh off a 44-13 loss to No. 3 Grand Valley State.
The Lakers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Huskies responded with 10 points of their own in the second quarter to take a 21-10 halftime lead. In the second half, the Huskies had two important turnovers that quickly started the game of the Lakers, who scored four touchdowns in the half to leave.
“First, the GV is as good as advertised in all three areas,” said Huskies coach Dan Mettlach. “Having said that, I thought our guys played well, they played hard, physical. In the end, what it came down to, even if you watch the video, a lot of mistakes. Obviously, turnovers and giving up a fake punt, you can’t do it if you beat a football team like that.
“(We had) a lot of missed tackles. I had some issues with (our) tackling in open spaces. So, all the things you have to do to win every football game are evaluated. Obviously, when you play the No. 2 team in the country, and it’s the tools they have, we’ve got to play full football to stay in. Unfortunately, we didn’t for four quarters.
The Huskies suffered back-to-back losses to two of the best teams in the country in Ferris State and Grand Valley State, but that doesn’t mean Mettlach and his staff are satisfied with the results.
“I appreciate that people are seeing the effort, the courage we play with,” he said. “Having said that, our locker room cannot be limited to sports. We haven’t reached that time yet. But, that’s where we want the program to be, where we’re competing in the fourth division with those teams, to one day be able to beat them, to be GLIAC champions again.
“We are not there yet. We need to get deeper issues answered. Our lockers know that.”
While the Huskies have a ways to go, Mettlach likes the fight his team shows week in and week out.
“I felt like the way we approach the game, the way we go, the way we showed Ferris, the guys, we have faith in the locker room, our leadership, and our attitude down there, right now that’s what we talked about going into the fall,” he said. “We feel like we can play with anyone. We don’t go back to anyone. I didn’t feel like we were tired in the last two weeks.”
At the same time, the Huskies are making some mistakes that could cost them a chance.
“Unfortunately, there were times where, going back two weeks ago, we gave up a blocked punt to Ferris, we missed an open man in the first half for a catch,” said Metlach. “There are things that in the last two weeks, when you play a football team, you can’t give up that opportunity, no matter what part of the game we’re talking about.”
One player on offense who has grown a bit over the past four weeks is freshman wide receiver Nic Nora. Nora had been used mostly on special teams until he got his first job at Wayne State on Oct. 7. He was caught again at Northern Michigan the following Saturday before making two catches against Ferris State, then leading the Huskies with five catches for 54 yards against Grand Valley State.
“Nic has been great since he stepped on campus,” Mettach said. “We saw his flashes in early camp. So when you go through that phase, you use the three-game, redshirt rule, do you pull a redshirt? In the end, we decided to redshirt him and let him go.
“He’s been slowly maturing and getting better in our offense. Obviously, his role has grown here in the last few weeks, but since he’s been here, he’s never been afraid of time, whether it’s playing on special teams, or tracking the ball.”
The Beavers come into Kearly Stadium on Saturday with a record of 1-8 overall and 1-8 in NSIC play. Their one win this season came against Concordia-St. Paul on Oct. 14.
They will use two quarterbacks in junior Dawson Macleary and freshman Dondrae Fair. Macleary has gone 29-of-63 for 357 yards and three touchdowns. Fair went 16-of-40 for 296 yards.
Freshman running back Myles West leads the game on the ground with 144 carries for 678 yards and five touchdowns. Junior running back Evan Lovett rushed 46 times for 272 yards and two touchdowns.
Wide receiver Daniel Stokes is the favorite this season with 14 catches for 247 yards and two touchdowns.
The Huskies and Beavers will meet on Saturday at 1pm at Kearly Stadium in Houghton.