HANCOCK - The Hancock Bulldogs only played well for one half of football last week, and it cost them. This week, they were relentless for the duration of the game, and Baraga paid the price.
Coming off a 20-14 loss to Gogebic last Friday, Hancock looked unstoppable against the struggling Vikings this Friday, routing Baraga 49-6 at McAfee Field.
"It was an outstanding game both halves," Hancock coach Matt Walter said. "We told them it was 0-0 at the half and they came out the second half and played even tougher. That's huge for us. ... We're very proud of how they handled this today."
Hancock quarterback Tanner Kearly winds up on a pass attempt in the first half of the Bulldogs’ 49-6 win over Baraga Friday night at McAfee field. The junior completed 7 of 12 passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns, while adding another touchdown on the ground. (DMG photo by Stephen Anderson)
The Bulldogs scored a pair of touchdowns in each of the first three quarters and put a cherry on top with another in the fourth. They outgained the visitors 344-78 yards, 276 of those yards on the ground, and 175 of those coming from senior tailback Ross Michaels.
"We have to play better. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it," Baraga coach Doug Hodges said.
It didn't take long for the Bulldogs to bulldoze their way to paydirt as Michaels punched it in from 2 yards out just 4:50 into the game to end a 10-play, 65-yard drive.
Baraga 0 6 0 0 - 6
Hancock 13 14 15 7 - 49
HAN - Ross Michaels 2-yard run (Brian Kass kick), 7:10
HAN - Travis Wesa 10-yard pass from Tanner Kearly (missed kick), 2:35
BAR - Jon Kaster 12-yard run (conversion failed), 11:43
HAN - Carl Leukuma 7-yard run (Kass kick), 3:44
HAN - Wesa 9-yard pass from Kearly (Kass kick), 0:21
HAN - Kearly 1-yard run (Kass kick), 8:43
HAN - Michaels 60-yard run (Troy Kinnunen run), 4:34
HAN - William Lucier 1-yard run (Kass kick), 1:22
First downs - BAR 4, HAN 12; Total yards - BAR 78 (55 rush, 23 pass), HAN 344 (276 rush, 68 pass); Rushing - BAR, Kaster 11-66, 1 TD; Michael Turunen 3-8; Alex Gabe 1-(-1); Corbin Crittenden 8-(-18); HAN, Michaels 19-175, 2 TD; Shane Raasio 7-48; Kearly 2-23, 1 TD; Leukuma 4-15, 1 TD; Kinnunen 1-7; Jacob Tuomi 4-6; 3-1, 1 TD; Passing - BAR, Kaster 1-6-23, 2 INT; HAN, Kearly 7-12-68, 2 TD; Receiving - BAR, Chris Goodreau 1-23; HAN, Wesa 3-22, 2 TD; Raasio 2-27; Carson Ryynanen 1-13; Leukuma 1-6.
Karl Kangas picked off Baraga quarterback Jon Kaster on the Vikings' first play from scrimmage, and the Bulldogs took 10 more plays to score, this time on a 10-yard pass from No. 10, QB Tanner Kearly to Travis Wesa.
But just like last week when Hancock led 14-0, and this time with a 13-0 lead, the hosts surrendered a scoring drive. Kaster kept it on the ground this time, scoring from 12 yards out to make it 13-6 just 17 seconds into the second quarter.
But unlike last week, Hancock responded - again, and again, and again.
Carl Leukuma drove in from 7 yards out with 3:44 left in the first half, and Kearly connected with Wesa again, this time from 9 yards just 21 seconds before intermission.
The second half was more of the same.
Kearly used the push from his offensive line to score from a yard out only 3:17 into the second half, three plays after Hancock recovered a Baraga fumble.
After a Viking three-and-out it was Hancock's turn to turn it over as Michaels botched a pitch. But the senior channeled his frustration into the best run of the night after Wesa picked off a Kaster pass.
Michaels broke through the middle, cut left, broke a tackle and outran Baraga's secondary for a 60-yard touchdown on the first play after the interception, making the score 42-6 with still 4:34 left in the third.
"I knew I had to make it up and I brought it to the end zone," Michaels said. "It was a very good game. Everybody on our team really gave it tonight and that's why we won."
In fact, just about everybody did contribute as Walter went several layers deep into his depth chart during fourth-quarter running time.
"When it was 42-6 I told the kids we still need to fight and this is the best time to practice," he said. "We got a lot of kids in, which is huge for us."
Hancock (2-0) hits the road for the first time next week in its WestPAC conference opener at Northland Pines in Eagle River, Wis. Baraga (0-2, 0-1 Great Western Conference) plays its first home game next week against the Gogebic Miners.