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Monday July 22, 2024
Michigan Tech Whips Hillsdale In Football Opener

Story, photo courtesy of Michigan Tech Athletics

HOUGHTON, Mich. —
The Michigan Tech football team started the season with an emphatic victory, besting Hillsdale 45-20 at Kearly Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Hillsdale falls to 0-2 on the season, while the Huskies start the season 1-0.


The Huskies racked up over 400 yards of offense while holding the Chargers to 257. 283 yards came through the air, with the remaining 129 yards coming on the ground. 


"I'm proud of the guys and our coaching staff for our first game," head coach Dan Mettlach said. "I felt like they ran the ball a little better than we thought and I didn't like how we finished the end of the game, but some of that had to do with the tempo of the game. There was a lot of good but a lot that we can clean up as well."


This is the highest-scoring season opener for the Huskies since the 2012 season when Michigan Tech defeated Tiffin 51-15 on Saturday, September 8, at Kearly Stadium.


"Starting fast was awesome," Mettlach added. "I wish we would've scored on that first drive but the defense comes out and gets a huge stop to get us back on the field and I think we kept our foot on the gas from there."


The second drive that opened the scoring for the Huskies came with a pass from Alex Fries, making his first career start for Michigan Tech, connecting with his old high school teammate Ethan Champney for a 12-yard touchdown pass.


Hillsdale got on the board shortly after by converting a 31-yard field goal to conclude the scoring for the first quarter.


The second quarter saw a lot more offense for the Black & Gold, with Fries finding wide receiver Darius Willis in the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown dish to make it 14-3 with 12:21 left in the quarter.


The defense contributed to the scoring when Josh Cribben hit Hillsdale quarterback Garrit Aissen near the 50-yard line, causing a fumble that was returned by defensive lineman Sam Kinne, who returned to the field for the first time since the 2021 season to make it 21-3 in favor of the Huskies.

 

"We have some things to iron out but we're going to enjoy the night. I give a bunch of kudos to the offense, that's the best they've looked since I've been here," senior defensive lineman Sam Kinne said. 


The Chargers scored on their next drive as Julian Lee connected on another field goal, this time from 38-yards out.


Fries would exit the field after rushing for 16-yards to a first down at the Hillsdale 21 yard line, giving Joe Hartlieb some time running the offense. 


Hartlieb concluded the drive with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Champney to conclude a nine play drive, covering 75 yards to increase the Michigan Tech lead to 28-6 heading into halftime.

Hillsdale earned a first down right out of halftime off a rush in the middle by Michael Herzog.

However, the Huskies would force a three-and-out moments later.


Michigan Tech was forced to punt after an unsuccessful first drive out of the break. Brendan Lach's boot went well past the Chargers special team, making them start on their 17-yard line with 11:57 in the quarter.


Despite penalties from the Huskies' defense, the Chargers were unable to spark offense after going for it on fourth down at their 24-yard line. The short field allowed Fries to make a quick attack, finding a streaking Drew Collins in the middle of the field, for a 15-yard touchdown pass, Fries' third of the game.


Hillsdale remained true to their game, with the next offensive drive breaking through as Herzog capped a 13 play, 73 yard drive with a two-yard rush to find the endzone and cut the lead to 35-13 with 7:28 remaining in the third quarter.


Back on offense, the Huskies looked to running back Kolby Hindenach, who had three carries highlighted by a 30-yard run to the house to make it 42-13 and conclude a five play, 75-yard possession.


Hillsdale forced a fumble to start the fourth quarter, however, the Huskies' Sam Ahern spoiled the Chargers' hopes of another touchdown making an interception in the end zone for the touchback, a play Ahern made against the Chargers in their meeting a season ago to clinch the win.


Following an unsuccessful offensive drive for the Huskies, the Chargers would drive downfield from Tech's 38 yard-line, relying on Herzog and Aissen on the ground, seeing Aissen rush for a 1-yard touchdown followed by an extra point by Julian Lee to bring the game to 42-20 with 8:27 remaining in the game.


Fries looked for Champney in the next drive, hitting him for two big plays, first a 19-yard pass on third and five and then a 42-yard haul on second and nineteen. Hindenach secured a run of six yards to set up kicker Drew Wyble for a 27-yard field goal to conclude the scoring at 45-20.


The Huskies defense accumulated three sacks for a loss of 17 yards.


Offensively, the Black & Gold saw four different ball carriers with Hindenach leading the way, averaging 9-yards per carry, including his 30-yard touchdown run. Champney averaged 21.1 yards receiving, totaling 148 yards on the day and two touchdown receptions.


Fries had an impressive debut for the Huskies, going 18-for-27 for 258 yards and three touchdowns. Joe Hartlieb went 2-for-2 for 25 yards and one touchdown.


Defensively, Michigan Tech was led by Hunter Buechel with 10 total tackles, Marc Sippel and Sam Ahern accounted for eight and six, respectively. 


The Huskies will be back in action next week, traveling to Wis. Platteville on Saturday, Sept. 16, slated for a 2 p.m. kickoff.


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