UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. – The Saginaw Valley State University football team earned a much needed 34-23 win against a tough Michigan Tech opponent in a GLIAC matchup this afternoon as they head into the home stretch of the playoff hunt. The victory moves SVSU to 7-2 overall on the year and 6-2 in the conference.
The Huskies struck first on a Cole Welch 1-yard touchdown run on their opening drive but were unsuccessful as they fumbled the extra point. The Cardinals quickly responded with a 34-yard TD reception by Jeff Janis (Tawas City, Mich.) from Jonathon Jennings (Columbus, Ohio / Westerville South HS) to go up 7-6. Janis would later break the school record for receptions (85) and yards (1,289) in a season as well as receptions in a game (18). For the game, Janis finished with 226 yards and 3 TDs earning "Meijer Player of the Game" honors.
Early in the second quarter, Scott Stanford (Novi, Mich.) split the uprights with a 35-yard field goal to give the Cardinals a 10-6 lead. Later in the quarter, Saginaw Valley scored another TD, this time on a 1-yard keeper by Jennings to put Saginaw Valley up 17-6. The scoring drive was keyed by the defense forcing a three-and-out after a 60-yard punt by Branko Hamilton (Troy, Mich.) was downed at the Michigan Tech 2-yard line.
The Huskies scored a TD with 17 seconds left in the first half to pull within four (17-13). However, after taking the ensuing kickoff to their 42-yard line, Cardinals QB Jennings connected with Mark Thrash (Wyoming, Mich.) on a 34-yard pass. That set up a 41-yard field goal by Stanford to end the half with the Cardinals on top 20-13.
Michigan Tech opened the third quarter with a field goal to cut their deficit to 20-16. Saginaw Valley responded with a 10-play, 88-yard drive that culminated with a 24-yard TD pass from Jennings to Janis to put the Cardinals up 27-16 at the end of the third. Jennings finished the contest 26-33 for 342 yards and 3 TDs.
The fourth quarter saw a third Jennings-to-Janis connection to paydirt, this time for 19-yards, to stretch Saginaw Valley's lead to 34-16. Michigan Tech would tacked on a score with a minute left in the game to finish the scoring at 34-23.
The Cardinal defense was impressive on the day, holding the Huskies to their lowest point total of the season. The defense was led by Brian Johnson (Muskegon, Mich. / Muskegon Catholic Central HS) with 11 tackles and one tackle-for-loss.
The Cardinals started play today as a No. 7 seed in Super Region No. 4. With the top 6 teams advancing into the playoffs, Saginaw Valley's win improves their chances of moving up in the Region to gain a playoff spot.
Saginaw Valley will head to Northern Michigan to battle the Wildcats at 1:00pm next Saturday.