HANCOCK - There will be plenty of material for Hancock coach Matt Walter to point out to his team on film at practice this week.
Good, bad and occasionally ugly.
The good: Senior running back Ross Michaels proved worthy of No. 1 back status, powering home for two touchdowns and picking up 85 total yards on the first three drives of first half. Junior quarterback Tanner Kearly looked poised in the pocket, completing six passes for 90 yards in the opening two quarters and Hancock led 14-0 with less than seven minutes to play in the second quarter.
Hancock’s Shane Raasio hits Gogebic Miners tailback Caleb Winkler early in Friday’s game at McAfee Field. Winkler finished with 177 rushing yards as the Miners won 20-14. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
Then it all fell apart.
The bad: Hancock turned the ball over three times, only gained 35 yards of offense in the second half and gave up three unanswered touchdowns to lose 20-14 to the Gogebic Miners.
And ugly: A Hancock player was ejected at the start of the fourth quarter after kicking out after a tackle and throwing the ball at a Miner defender.
Gogebic 0 7 13 0 - 20
Hancock 0 14 0 0 - 14
Han - Ross Michaels 2-yard run (Brian Kass kick)
Han - Michaels 7-yard run (Kass kick)
Gog - Eric Lane 1-yard run (Jacob Pikka kick)
Gog - Caleb Winkler 57-yard run (Pikka kick)
Gog - Jess Mazzon, 57-yard pass from Winkler (kick blocked)
Total Offense - Gogebic 307 (250 run, 57 pass); Hancock 190 (58 run, 132 pass). First downs - Gogebic 11; Hancock 9. Passing - Gogebic, Lane 1-57-0; Hancock, Tanner Kearly 8-132-0; Rushing - Gogebic, Winkler 177 yards, 1 TD; Hancock, Michaels 56 yards, 2 TD. Receiving - Gogebc, Mazzon 1-57-1; Hancock, Travis Wesa, 1-54-0.
One team handled adversity well Friday night, and one did not.
"You just don't know what kind of character your team has until you are in a situation like that," Gogebic coach Mark Mazzon said. "To come back and score the last 20 points was just huge. That said a lot about them."
"We have to learn that when adversity sets in, we have to get tough," Walter said. "Things are going to happen that are out of our control but we need to keep our head, our mental composure. We need to learn that.
"That's what killed us."
Adversity, and the combination of Miner running backs Caleb Winkler and Alex Coubal.
With Coubal lining up at fullback and Winkler at tailback, the Gogebic pair rushed for a combined 248 yards against a defense that often was in a position to make a tackle but let the runner slip through their grasp.
The kicker came when Winkler tied the game up at 14-all with an unorthodox 57-yard dash. The senior was met and wrapped up in the backfield on a second down run, but kept his legs moving and the refs never whistled the play dead. He eventually broke free and scampered untouched down the sideline.
"I was screaming, 'If 11 guys are to the ball, that doesn't happen,'" Walter said. "I would rather take a 15-yard after-the-play foul for playing through the whistle than a touchdown like that."
Gogebic was able to take the lead for good two drives later after a questionable fumble was called on Hancock's Shane Raasio and the Miners struck quickly with a 57-yard touchdown pass from QB Eric Lane to Jess Mazzon - the only pass Lane would complete on the day.
"If you are going to complete just one, that is the one to do it on," Mazzon said.
"That is one of the things we have to play through," Walter added of the questionable fumble call. "You can't control outside factors and you need to play through it. We are not going to make excuses, we are just going to come back and fight next week."
By that point, Hancock was misfiring on offense, with neither the running or passing game able to get back on track.
"You have to give credit to the Gogebic Miners, that No. 50 (Randy Hemming), he was tough to block," Walter said. "They had a good game plan. Ross Michaels is one of the hardest working running backs I have seen, and you have to give them credit for tackling him. They pursued the ball very, very well."
While the final two quarters will certainly not look pretty on film, there will be blocks of success for the Bulldogs to build on. The offense moved the ball well in the first half, and Walter was particularly happy that his team avoided most yellow flags.
"There were not many penalties, and I was really happy with that," Walter said. "Last year against Bessemer, I bet we had 18 false starts. And we were pretty clean today."