HOUGHTON - On a night when both teams were hungry for a win, Calumet sent Houghton to bed with no supper Friday night.
Houghton got the first blow in, but the Copper Kings scored 28 unanswered points to gain their first win of the season, 28-15, in their WestPAC opener.
"We've certainly taken three tough losses in a row there. It was great getting the win tonight and it certainly wasn't easy," Calumet coach John Croze said.
Calumet’s Clark Kangas turns the corner on a first-half run in Friday’s WestPAC?game against Houghton at Alumni?Field. The Copper Kings won 28-15. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
Calumet (1-3, 1-0 WestPAC) lacked flair and had flaws, but kept chopping away at the Houghton defense, eventually racking up 322 rushing yards. Tyler Roland had the higher yardage total, with 174 yards on 13 carries, while Clark Kangas served as the closer, barging in for a pair of short-yardage scores.
"We certainly like our backs back there, doesn't matter who's getting it. I think Roland got most of the big yards tonight, but they run hard, but I've certainly got to tip the hats to the guys up front today because they did a good job blocking a multiple-front defense," Croze said.
Houghton was much more competitive than it has been against Calumet in recent meetings, but couldn't overcome a glut of pre-snap penalties plus a pair of drive-killing turnovers.
Calumet 6 8 14 0 - 28
Houghton 7 0 0 8 - 15
HOU - Ben Collaer, 6-yard run (Ryan LaBerge kick), 2:13
CAL - Tyler Roland, 46-yard run (run failed), 0:00
CAL - Clark Kangas, 1-yard run (Kangas run), 5:57
CAL - James Sturos, 10-yard run (run failed), 5:34
CAL - Kangas, 2-yard run (Paul Torola pass from Sturos), 2:41
HOU - Seth Kaarto, 6-yard pass from LaBerge, :49
First downs - Calumet 15, Houghton 9; Total offense - Calumet 375 (322 rush, 53 pass), Houghton 215 (192 rush, 23 pass); Rushing - CAL, Roland 13-174, TD; Kangas 17-90, 2 TDs; Sturos 9-47, TD; HOU, Collaer 26-151, TD; Thomas Schmidt 3-31; LaBerge 12-13. Passing - CAL, Sturos, 3-11-53 3 INTs; HOU, LaBerge, 2-10-23, 1 TD, 1 INT; Receiving - CAL, Bryce Johnson 2-46, Owen Kariniemi 1-7; HOU, Zack Ohtonen 1-17, Kaarto 1-6 TD.
"They wore us down. Physically, they wore us down. They have a good strong program and they wore us down with skill and people," Houghton coach Karl Borree said.
The Gremlins made their presence felt late in the first quarter, after a clever 17-yard pass play from Ryan LaBerge to Zack Ohtonen set up Houghton in the red zone. Ben Collaer rolled into the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown, and though Roland busted a 46-yard touchdown run on a third-and-1 for Calumet, Houghton held a 7-6 lead into the second quarter.
The game tilted for good into the Copper Kings' hands midway through the second, as the defense put a helmet on the ball in LaBerge's hands, popping it high into the air and down into Anders Bjorn's hands.
Set up on the Houghton 25, Roland rumbled down to the 1 on the next play and Kangas then finished the job to put Calumet into the lead with 5:27 left in the half.
The Kings consolidated their lead in the third quarter with scores on back-to-back drives. Quarterback James Sturos broke the plane on his 10-yard option run to the left sideline with 5:34 remaining in the frame, to be followed about three minutes later by a 2-yard plunge from Kangas.
"Calumet played well. They're a good football team, they're real physical and that combined with our miscues; we can't beat a team like that with miscues. We have to play better," Borree said. "We have to mind the ball better, we can't have the amount of penalties we had, but I think we had some real good effort and that's what we can build on."
A series of runs from Collaer helped Houghton tack on a consolation touchdown, a 6-yard pass from LaBerge to Seth Kaarto in the final minute.
"It was a good hard-nosed, hard-hitting game. Both teams went after each other hard and I was real impressed with the intensity and the hitting brought into the game. In the long run, that's what got us the win," Croze said.
In addition to his two scores, Kangas finished with 90 yards on 17 carries.
Calumet will go for a second straight win over a local rival when it returns home next Friday to face Hancock.
Another bright spot for Houghton was defensive back Ian Helman, who intercepted Sturos three times.
"I think that Ian and the rest of the defensive backs are getting better. They're getting more focused on what they're supposed to be seeing, their keys and I was happy for them, because we sure didn't look good the first couple games back there. We're making progress," Borree said.
Houghton (0-4, 0-3 WestPAC) is at West Iron County next Saturday for a 3 p.m. (EST) kickoff.