Houghton blanked by Westwood, 42-0, on rain-soaked night

Daily Mining Gazette/Dave Archambeau The Gremlins’ Nate Erva looks for space to run during a game against the Patriots Friday night at Sherman Field in Houghton.

HOUGHTON — The Westwood Patriots walked onto Michigan Tech’s Sherman Field prepared to play a 48 minute WestPAC Copper Division game for their season opener against the Houghton Gremlins Friday night.

Westwood head coach Scott Syrjala was pleased that his Patriots jumped out to a quick lead that they never relinquished despite not having a season-opening scrimmage to work out kinks before their first real game.

“We decided it was best for our kids to not get hurt anymore,” said Syrjala. “We were a little bit rusty the first couple series, but I thought our kids and coaches did a great job making some adjustments on the fly and really getting after it.”

The Gremlins, on the other hand, have only had one day of practice on a football-sized field leading up to this season opener and as a result, Westwood was able to shut them down, 42-0.

The Patriots were able to capitalize on third-down conversions throughout the game. Junior Taylor Dellangelo with 7:41 left in the opening quarter.

“He’s one heck of an athlete,” Syrjala said. “It’s great to see him do that. He’s worked really hard. He’s deceivingly fast. He’s worked on his speed this year (and) has gotten a lot faster, (and) a lot stronger.

“He’s doing better and I expect big things out of him this year.”  

Fortunately for the Gremlins, the 2-point conversion failed.

It was one of the few things that went well for the Orange and Black.

New Gremlins head coach Kurt Huffmaster, whose team, despite having two weeks of preseason planning leading up to Friday night, looked like a team in need of work.

“Yeah, well I mean, they’re a really good football team with everybody back,” said Huffmaster. “(They) went to the playoffs last year. We’ve had fourteen days with what we’ve been doing.

“You know, we just didn’t execute up front. They won the line of scrimmage. We just have to get better at that.”

The first quarter ended with the Patriots ahead 14-0 thanks to senior Nathan Backman, who scored with 2:33 left.

With the Gremlins unable to advance the football past the line of scrimmage with regularity, Huffmaster felt that his team learned a lot about where they are in the building process.

“We’ve got to get better at the point of attack on the line of scrimmage and we’ve got to get a lot more sound on our assignments,” he said.

Houghton’s lack of experience continued to show throughout the night.

“It’s nice to get on a full-sized field, it’s only the second time this year, but it’s a beautiful facility,” said Huffmaster. “It was nice to play here. I wish we could’ve put on a better show.”

The Patriots would add two more touchdowns to their lead despite a holding call early in a late second-quarter drive, pushing their advantage to 28-0 before halftime.

Westwood then opened the second half with a run back and two point conversion from Dellangelo giving the visitors a 34-0 lead.

The Patriots were also able take advantage of the Gremlins’ inability to advance the in the second half, resulting in two turnovers.

“When you start getting a couple of picks like that and then you get the kick off return by Taylor, that helps with the momentum, it keeps things going,” said Syrjala. “Our kids grinded really well tonight, we worked on our run game, our kids did well up front.”

Junior Rae Even capped the scoring for Westwood in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots will face Iron Mountain next Friday.

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