SOUTHFIELD, Michigan – Lawrence Technological University is set to host a homecoming football game on its Southfield campus for the first time in school history. The 5-0 Blue Devils welcome fellow first-year program and Mid-States Football Association probationary member Indiana Wesleyan.
Lawrence Tech has roared out to a program best 5-0 mark. No Blue Devil team in the original era of football ever won five straight games. LTU has been posting some big scores on the way to its unblemished mark, averaging 55.6 points per game – which would rank third in the NAIA, just ahead of IWU's 50.2 points per outing.
Despite giving up its first points since September 8 last week, the defense's scoring average has continued to improve, giving up a stingy 8.6 points per game. LTU's defense would top the NAIA statistically this season with just 105.0 yards allowed per game and 24.2 rushing yards surrendered per contest. In addition to proving tough to move the ball on, Lawrence Tech has notched five defensive scores this season – combined with a pair of punt return touchdowns from Kavon Higdon (FR/Shelby Twp., MI) and Cam Mitchell (FR/Mount Clemens, MI), the Blue Devils' defense and special teams have combined to outscore its opponents through five games, 42-36.
Last time out, Lawrence Tech started off quick on the road in Ellendale, North Dakota, at Trinity Bible. The Blue Devils took a 55-0 lead into halftime, finishing the afternoon with a program-high 68 points. En route to the 68-7 victory, three different rushers scored two touchdowns – Tanner Foley (FR/Sebawing, MI), Ahmad Sabbagh (FR/Dearborn Heights, MI) and Mekai Otero (FR/Orlando, FL). Tyler Kulka (FR/Clinton Township, MI) tossed a pair of touchdown passes – the first to Terrel Cunningham (FR/Northsville, MI) and the second to CJ Thompson (FR/Alma, MI). Kulka has thrown for 14 touchdowns this season and no interceptions. LTU won the turnover battle against the Lions, jumping on two fumbles and making three interceptions – highlighted by a 24-yard pick six by Mitchell just before half.
Coming into the matchup with Indiana Wesleyan, Foley paces all Blue Devils with 405 all-purposes yards this season to go with his three touchdowns. Foley's three scores are bested only by his fellow running backs Otero and Sabbagh who have four apiece. On the defensive side of the football, Tommy Lappin (FR/Howell, MI) has a team-high 25.0 tackles – 8.5 for loss. Robbie Best(FR/Struthers, OH) has 22.0 tackles, an interception last week at TBC and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Indiana Wesleyan started the program off with a 43-31 loss to Taylor in Marion, Indiana. Since, the Wildcats have rebounded with four-straight wins, including an 80-6 victory over Trinity Bible. Last time out, IWU bested MSFA foe Saint Francis (Ill.), 35-34, for its inaugural homecoming game.
The Wildcats are led by Joshua Mckenzie out of the backfield with 472 yards, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Deodney Alford is close behind, taking 53 carries this year for 436 yards and five scores. Zack Blair has thrown for 883 yards over five games and eight touchdowns. Blair has limited his turnovers to just one interception. Brayden Smith has been the top target for Blair, hauling in a team-high 28 catches for 421 yards and four touchdowns. As a team, Indiana Wesleyan's defense has combined for four interceptions and four forced fumbles. They have limited opponents to 283.0 yards per effort.
The Blue Devils' leading rusher from 1946, Harry "The Horse" Kazanjian - the honorary captain for LTU throughout the 2018 season – will join team captains at midfield for the coin toss.
LTU's coaching staff will be participating in the American Football Coaches Association's Coach To Cure MD initiative this weekend. Now in its 11th year, Coach To Cure MD seeks to raise awareness and money to find research for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
"We love supporting this wonderful initiative," said head coach Jeff Duvendeck. "We hope to help bring awareness and support from our players, staff, community and fans to help Cure MD."
During the college football games the week of September 29, thousands of AFCA members wore Coach To Cure MD patches on the sidelines to help raise awareness of the program. Due to the Blue Devils' bye week during that time, Lawrence Tech's staff elected to participate in the program during the Homecoming game.
Over the last 10 years, Coach To Cure MD has raised over $2 million. Every dollar raised has helped advance promising research, which led to two drug approvals for Duchenne in 2016. To donate $10 to Coach To Cure MD, text the word "Cure" to 50555. Donations can also be made online at coachtocuremd.org.
Tailgating spots will be available in parking lots A and G – please follow the link below for policies and a campus map. Spots for tailgating cost $10 per space. Throughout the 2018 season, each home game will have a dedicated tailgate theme. Saturday's theme will be a Blue Out. Fans are encouraged to wear Blue as they pack the LTU Athletic Field.
Parking for Saturday's game will be available in Lot E at no charge – please follow the link below for campus map – parking lots D and E, which are located near the STEM Building near the Northwestern Highway entrance to campus. The Tech transit will be shuttling fans to and from the field area at no cost. A handicap lot is available at a first come, first serve basis right next to the field off of 10 Mile Road.
The Lawrence Tech Sports Network will live stream Saturday's game on the LTU Athletics YouTube page, along with LTUAthletics.com, the LTU Athletics Facebook page and on Twitter at @LTU_FB. Blue Devil sophomores Jason Ross Jr. and Dillon Morello will be on the call.