Huskies snatch win at Northwood

MIDLAND, Mich. – Jordan McConnell hauled in a tipped pass in the end zone as time expired to give Michigan Tech a 33-31 victory at Northwood Saturday. Trailing 31-27 with less than a minute remaining, Tyler Scarlett drove the Huskies 85 yards in nine plays for the game-winning points.

Brandon Cowie had a key 32-yard catch to set Tech up at the Timberwolves’ 6-yard line with less than 10 seconds left. After an incompletion, Scarlett slung the ball toward McConnell in the end zone. The pass was tipped high into the air, and McConnell came down with it right at the goal line for the touchdown. Scarlett knelt on the point-after try, giving the Huskies their fourth win of the season.

“I’d rather be lucky than good,” said Tech coach Tom Kearly. “And today we were lucky. It’s a good win, but I didn’t think we deserved it the way we played the fourth quarter. Give Northwood credit. They made the plays to get the lead.

“We should have had the game put away in the first half, but we squandered points. It was a ping-pong game down the stretch, and I’m happy to get out of here with a win.”

Charlie Leffingwell rushed 38 times for a career-high 221 yards and two touchdowns, but it was his fumble with 4:25 to play that turned the game. Tech was in Northwood territory looking to add to a 21-17 lead. Instead, the hosts picked up the loose ball and returned it 68 yards to grab a 24-21 advantage.

The Huskies answered 81 seconds later, as Cowie caught a quick slant and broke a tackle before going 35 yards for a 27-24 lead. The PAT was missed, leaving it a three-point differential.

Northwood marched 65 yards on the ensuing possession, aided by a defensive pass interference call on fourth and four at its own 41. The Timberwolves scored on a 26-yard pass play with just 56 seconds remaining. They made their extra point, putting the score at 31-27 and requiring the Huskies to score a touchdown.

That’s just what they did.

After a short kickoff return, Scarlett completed 7-of-9 passes to guide the offense 85 yards in 51 seconds for the win.

“Scarlett did a great job of not being impatient,” said offensive coordinator Erik Ieuter. “He took what the defense gave him.

“The primary target on the last play was Cowie in the back of the end zone. We had McConnell on that side of the field, too, and it worked out.”

Scarlett completed 23-of-37 passes for 339 yards and the two second-half touchdowns.

It was Leffingwell and the Huskies’ running game that dominated the first half. The junior, playing in his hometown, had 162 yards at the break. Tech led 14-0 at halftime but could have easily been up 28-0. The Black and Gold held a 262-to-96 advantage in total yards and a 21:28-to-8:32 margin in time of possession. Three turnovers – an interception, a fumble and one on downs – all inside the Northwood 25 kept the game close on the scoreboard.

NU scored on its opening drive of the second half to pull within 14-7, then got points on each of its final four possessions.

Final stats showed the Huskies with big advantages in yards (583-to-325) and time of possession (37:10-to-22:50).

Dan Perrault had a team-high eight tackles for Tech. Tanner Agen had six stops including a game-high 2.5 for loss.

Michigan Tech has four games left on its 2013 schedule – all against teams tied or ahead in the GLIAC North standings.

Three of those four games will be played at Sherman Field, starting next Saturday with Ferris State at 1 p.m.