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Wednesday May 22, 2024
Tech Football Holds On For Road Win In Platteville

This story was written by Michigan Tech University Athletics

The Michigan Tech football team led for most of the game and held off Wisconsin-Platteville, 24-20, Saturday, in Wisconsin.

Platteville received the ball with 1:45 remaining with a chance to take the lead but ultimately threw an interception. The Huskies elevate to 2-0 on the season, handing the Pioneers their first loss of the season, with a ledger of 2-1.

"You won't win many games on the road when you turn the ball over five times, with as many big penalties as we had as well," head coach Dan Mettlach said. "It was a reality check and thankfully the defense played the way that they did so that we could get out of here with a win. 

"It was one of those days that we had chances to step on them in the first half and we didn't and we let them hang around. It's a good learning moment for our guys and we'll enjoy this because winning isn't easy but by the time we get back to Houghton tonight we're onto Upper Iowa."

The two teams had uncharacteristic games offensively, seeing three interceptions a piece. The Huskies also had struggled holding the ball with two fumbles on the day.

However, the veteran defense from the Black & Gold came up big time after time.

No play bigger than the interception from Marc Sippel with 1:06 left in regulation to ultimately end the hopes of a Pioneer comeback. Sippel also accounted for a team-leading 14 tackles.

Michigan Tech won the coin toss and saw their defense stop the Pioneers in the first drive of the game for just five plays and 17 yards.

The Huskies looked to Kolby Hindenach and Ethan Champney with their first drive showcasing runs Hindenach capped with a connection from Alex Fries to Champney on an eight-yard throw, making it to the endzone with 10:50 to go in the first quarter.

In the drive, Fries hit Champney on back-to-back plays, first a 20-yard reception on third-and-one before a 30-yard connection followed by a 10-yard run from Hindenach.

Platteville saw their next drive go for 13 plays and 55-yards but with nothing to show as the 39-yard field goal attempt went wide.

The momentum changed a few possessions later, as Jake Newman got a big hit on the Pioneers quarterback Michael Priami at the start of the second quarter, leading to Carl Richardson taking over for Wisconsin-Platteville.

Richardson would take charge and put Wisconsin-Platteville on the board in their next drive with an 89-yard bomb on the second play of the drive to even it up at seven apiece. 

After getting a few runs earlier in the day, Hindenach blocked a Pioneers punt, putting the Huskies offense on the 1-yard line, being rewarded with a rush to the right to score a touchdown for his second consecutive game and give Michigan Tech a 14-7 edge.

The Pioneers answered with a touchdown of their own coming off a trick play at the 1-yard line as Justin Blazek connected to Jett Gillum on a jump pass with the extra point, putting the two in a lock at 14-all with 2:29 remaining in the first half.

Wisconsin-Platteville looked for a big play downfield in their next drive, but Sam Ahern read the play perfectly to get the interception and return it 22-yards.

Fries would hit Darius Willis and Champney for 12-yards and 16-yards, respectively, to put the Huskies on the Pioneers' 25-yard line before ultimately running 7-yards to the endzone just before the end of the third quarter to make it 21-14.

The beginning of the fourth quarter started with both teams ending in three-and-outs while the next Huskies possession ended in a fumble picked up by Wisconsin-Platteville.

Richardson drove the Pioneers down to the 14-yard line but would not outmatch the Huskies, settling for a 31-yard field goal to bring the score to 21-17.

Tech's untimely offensive woes would continue with an interception, giving the Pioneers a chance to take the lead with 9:11 left in regulation.

Once again, Wisconsin-Platteville would march down the field, this time in six plays covering 43 yards, resulting in another field goal, this time from 41-yards to bring the game to 21-20.

Both teams struggled offensively in the ladder minutes of the game, with the tides beginning to turn back in favor of the Huskies when Richardson would look downfield again only for Ahern to capitalize on the opportunity and nab his second interception of the game, this time at the 1-yard line.

The Huskies were unable to take advantage of the takeaway, being forced to punt after an unsuccessful six-play drive that only gained Michigan Tech six yards.

The next possession would ultimately decide the game, with a quarterback hurry and a deflection resulting in an interception by Sippel to conclude the game 24-20.

The Huskies went 9-of-19 on third downs compared to the Pioneers' 4-of-18. Michigan Tech had ten penalties for 90 yards, while Wisconsin-Platteville accounted for six penalties for 48 yards.

Will Marano had 20 carries for the Huskies, good for 59 yards. Champney and Willis both earned over 100 yards receiving with Champney 11 receptions for 143 yards while Willis garnered 10 receptions for 123 yards.

Following Sippel's team-leading 14 tackles, Josh Cribben accounted for eight tackles, while Hunter Buechel racked up seven.

The Huskies continue their nonconference road play heading to Fayette, Iowa, on Saturday, September 23, to face Upper Iowa at 2 p.m.

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