Bulldogs pound Ironwood 41-0
By PAT KRAUSE
IRONWOOD – The Hancock Bulldogs scored three second quarter touchdowns and rolled over Ironwood 41-0 in a West-PAC Conference battle at Longyear Field in a rare Thursday night game.
Ironwood was down three varsity players, including quarterback Parker Wilson, who was out with a concussion from last week’s game. Head coach Ryan Niemi decided to bring up five freshmen and sophomore players to help with depth and senior wide receiver, Shawn Pertile, was moved to quarterback.
Early on, Ironwood played strong offensively and defensively as the backs ran hard and Niemi said the line came off the ball well. The defense also played aggressively and held Hancock to two field goal attempts that went wide right.
“The first half was OK,” Niemi said. “It was 0-0 after the first quarter and we were hitting people a lot better tonight. It may not seem like it when you get beat 41-0, but we did improve as a whole. We just have to work on getting better every week. Hancock’s got some good athletes. Their running backs are quick and physical and their quarterback is better than average.”
For new Bulldog coach Ted Holmstrom, he may have struck the mother lode as he has 60 players out for football and his varsity team is stocked with younger players.
“We’re a young team with mainly juniors playing,” Nordstrom said. “Our quarterback (junior Carter Nettell) played well and our running backs (Alex Dewald and Bryce Turner) ran hard and looked good.”
Nettell threw second quarter touchdowns to Turner (31 yards) and sophomore Tyler Turcotte, who got behind the secondary for a 21-yard score as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-0 lead.
Nordstrom said two of his best defensive players are sophomore Alex Nordstrom and freshman Colton Salani, who has a familiar name with many football fans in the Copper Country.
Nordstrom picked off a Pertile pass with 28 seconds left in the half and ran it down the left sideline for six points. The play may have been the turning point of the game as Hancock went into the locker room leading 21-0.
Hancock opened the third quarter by returning the kickoff to the Red Devil 40-yard line. On their first play from scrimmage, Nettell threw his third touchdown pass. He hit Turner in the left flats and the big fullback broke two tackles on his way to a 40-yard jaunt for a TD.
The Bulldogs went up 27-0 with 11:40 left in the quarter
On the final play of the third quarter, Nordstrom stole the ball out of the hands of an Ironwood back running up the middle.
Starting the fourth quarter, Nettell rolled left and with a lot of time to throw, Turcotte got behind the Ironwood secondary again and hauled in a 47-yard scoring strike.
It was touchdown pass number four for Nettell and the Bulldogs led 34-0.
Hancock reached the running clock at 8:42 when Turner burst up the middle and rambled 31-yards for a score.
Niemi still believes in his team and he knows he’s getting some fine performances from a number of his players.
“(Nathan) Ruotsala was a bright shining kid out there,” Niemi said. “Both he and (Charlie) Gotta and (Ian) Sackett played well on offense and defense.”
And Holmstrom had nothing but good things to say about the Red Devils.
“Hats off to the Ironwood coaches and players,” Holmstrom said. “They play hard and clean. It’s going to come for them. Just hold the faith.”
And Holmstrom was off for the long bus ride home and to prepare for a 7 a.m. practice on Monday.
Dewald cracked the century mark with 100-yards on only five carries, while Turner chipped in with 89 on eight attempts.
Ironwood’s top rusher was Ruotsala with 21 carries for a hard-earned 79 yards and Ian Averitt picked up 58-yards on 17 attempts.
The Red Devils (0-2, 0-2) will travel to Houghton for another conference battle on Friday at 6 p.m. CDT.