Lakes fall in season opener to Knights, 54-32
LAKE LINDEN — Two of the better Class D football teams in the Upper Peninsula got together Saturday afternoon at Ron Warner Field.
But after the smoke had cleared on a steamy day, it was the visiting Norway Knights who bested the Lake Linden-Hubbell Lakes by a 54-32 score.
Lakes skipper Andy Crouch felt his team put together a mixed bag.
“It was good on one side …. and ugly on the other,” Crouch said. “We moved the ball well, but they (Knights) also moved it whenever they wanted to. It’s something we’ll have to improve on.”
Norway skipper Bob Madigan said his team had to work hard in the season opener.
“They (Lakes) are well-coached and they scheme well,” Madigan said. “It was a good football game. They play hard and come right at you.”
On this day, it was the offense that stood out as the two teams combined to roll up more than 1,000 yards.
Two running backs — one from each side — had huge afternoons.
Norway’s Mitchell LeGrave accumulated 248 yards in 14 carries and scored five times. Kellen Klein of the Lakes piled up 261 yards on 21 tries while tallying three times.
“He (Klein) did a nice job of reading the defense today and finding the seams, and the offensive line did an outstanding job,” Crouch noted. “But we might have scored too quickly at times because they (Knights) got the ball back right away. Credit to them, they blocked the heck out of us.”
The opening two minutes of the contest was a clear indication of how things were going to be as three TDs were scored.
LeGrave plunged in from a yard out to cap a short 55-yard drive and Kyle Benjamin hit the kick after.
The crowd barely had to digest that event when Klein sprinted 45 yards to paydirt. Jess Hill added the two-pointer with a run and the locals had their only lead of the day at 8-7.
Norway had an immediate answer when LeGrave took a handoff and went 59 yards for a 13-8 score.
The Knights upped the count to 21-8 early in the second quarter on Austin Janssen’s 5-yard scoring run and a two-point pass from Trey Boda to Kyle Hendrickson.
Lakes quarterback Carter Crouch ran 26 yards for a score later in the quarter to slice it to 21-14.
But the Knights responded with two more scores, the first a 34-yard run by Janssen and second a 9-yard scamper by LeGrave.
Klein sandwiched in a 46-yard score of his own and it stood 34-20 at intermission.
Two defensive plays by Justin Cescolini of Norway began the third period.
His fumble recovery at the Norway-27 halted one Lakes drive and was followed by a 73-yard scoring run by LeGrave on the ensuing play.
Cescolini then picked off a Crouch pass on the next series, and that set up a 53-yard TD run by LeGrave for a 47-20 score.
“That was a big sequence in the game,” Madigan said. “It gave us momentum and took some of the steam out of them.”
All that remained afterward was for the two teams to trade touchdowns. Crouch and Klein scored for the Lakes on runs of 25 and 54.
LeGrave and Peyton Thompson had 47 and 28-yard scoring runs for Norway.
Crouch said his team can use the game as a learning tool.
“We knew how good Norway was coming in,” he said. “They have some fine athletes.
“It’s a tough schedule but we’ll have to keep working.”
The Lakes face another acid test on Friday, traveling to Ishpeming.
Norway will meet Munising the same evening.
Norway 13 21 13 7 – 54
LL-Hubbell 8 12 0 12 – 32
NO – Mitchell LeGrave 1 run (Kyle Benjamin kick)
LL – Kellen Klein 45 run (Jess Hill pass from Carter Crouch)
NO – LeGrave 59 run (kick failed)
NO – Austin Janssen 5 run (Kody Hendricks pass from Trey Boda)
LL – Crouch 26 run (run failed)
NO – Janssen 34 run (kick failed)
LL – Klein 34 run (Hill run)
NO – LeGrave 9 run (Benjamin kick)
NO – LeGrave 73 run (Benjamin kick)
NO – LeGrave 53 run (kick failed)
LL Crouch 25 run (run failed)
NO – Peyton Thompson 28 run (Benjamin kick)
LL – Klein 54 run (run failed)
First downs: NO 25, LL 20; Total yards: NO 569; LL 487; Rushes/yards: NO 41-495; LL 49-464; Passing: NO (Boda) 5-5-0-73; LL (Crouch) 1-4-1-23.
Ind. stats: Rushing: NO LeGrave 14-249; Thompson 11-129, Janssen 9-87; LL Klein 21-261; Crouch 10-80; Hill 4-39, Ca. Klein 4-33, Co. Gregoire 6-25. Receiving: NO Hendricks, 3-53; Janssen 1-21; LL Ca. Gregoire 1-23.