HANCOCK - Digging deep in the second half, the Hancock Bulldogs pulled out a 19-18 WestPAC football victory over Ironwood Friday night at McAfee Field by using some trickery.
The Crimson and Gold -- down by 11 points early in the fourth quarter -- scored on a Ross Michaels 12-yard run to edge to within five points at 18-13.
Then the 'Dawgs recovered what looked suspiciously like an onside kick to take over the football at the Ironwood 49-yard line.
"It was supposed to be a squib kick, but it turned into an onside kick," Hancock coach Matt Walter chuckled afterward. "At any rate, it worked out pretty well for us."
When quarerback Tanner Kearly found Carl Leukuma with a 7-yard touchdown pass six plays later, the locals had a 19-18 lead they wouldn't surrender with just over six minutes to play on the cold and rainy night.
Ironwood coach Dan Niemi agreed that the onside kick changed the game.
Ironwood 0 12 6 0 - 18
Hancock 0 0 7 12 - 19
IW - Cole Stevens 3 run (run failed)
IW - Stevens 61 run (Pass failed)
HA - Ross Michaels 50 run (Brian Kass kick)
IW - Travis Mylly 19 pass from Adam Mackey (run failed)
HA - Michaels 12 run (run failed)
HA - Carl Leukuma 7 pass from Tanner Kearly (pass failed)
First downs: IW 9, HA 11; Yards rushing: IW 37-215; HA 37-223; Ind rushing: IW Stevens 15-121; Mackey 10-94; HA Michaels 22-164; Engman 8-48; Passing: Mackey 4-10-0-34; HA Kearly 6-0-9-48; Receiving: IW: Mylly 2-31; HA Leukma 3-24; Michaels 2-19.
"It gave them (Bulldogs) the momentum they needed," he said. "But after playing a good first half, we came out flat in the second half and they took advantage. Give them credit for sticking with it."
Ironwood controlled the first two quarters by using the darting runs of tailback Cole Stevens and quarterback Adam Mackey.
Stevens tallied on runs of 3 and 61 yards in the second quarter for a 12-0 reading at the intermission.
The cat-quick Michaels bounced off several tacklers for a 50-yard scoring play early in the third quarter. The PAT kick by Brian Kass made it 12-7.
The Devils regained apparent control when Mackey tossed a 19-yard TD pass to Travis Mylly later in the period to make it 18-7.
Michaels, who gained a 164 yards in 19 carries, kept the Bulldogs in contention with his thrusts into the Red Devils defense.
"He (Michaels) is a good back," Niemi noted. "But we just didn't play with the same intensity we had in the first half ... we didn't tackle him when we had the chance."
Walter said he remains amazed at what his senior tailback does.
"Ross has some great moves, but he does a lot of it with strength," the Hancock skipper said. "Like I said before, he works as hard anyone on our team."
The Hancock defense was spearheaded by Jordan LaTendresse, Shane Raasio and Brett Knaus, all with six tackles. Unfortunately, the latter suffered a broken ankle later in the game.
Now 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the league, Hancock will host West Iron next Friday in another league test.
"We need to have a good week of practice and come out ready to play," Walter said. "If we don't, West Iron will give us trouble."
The Red Devils, who received 121 yards rushing from Stevens and another 92 from Mackey, will host Calumet the same night. Ironwood is 2-5 overall and 2-3 in the league.