Finlandia scores comeback win against Trinity Bible

Paul Peterson photo Trinity Bible quarterback Austin Morris is pressured by Caleb Scroggs of Finlandia in the first half of Saturday's game at McAfee Field. Finlandia scored a 27-21 win.

HANCOCK — Second-half rallies are becoming a signature of the Finlandia University football team.

For the third time in their past three games, the Lions roared back for a 27-21 win over Trinity Bible College Saturday afternoon at McAfee Field.

Trailing at the half by a 14-13 count, Finlandia received touchdown receptions from Dillion Hueckstaedt and Tyler Kangas in the third period to pull out its third win in five tries this season.

“It’s an exciting win for us as a team,” Lions’ coach Tim Driscoll said afterward. “It was a learning experience for us because they (TBC) beat us twice last season. And we’re over .500 for the first time in the history of the program.”

Hueckstaedt and Kangas, both juniors, were individual stars on a brisk and windy and day.

Hueckstaedt, the former Baraga High product, led the team in tackles with 14. He also caught two passes for 69 yards and the aforementioned touchdown.

Kangas (Manistique) snagged five passes for 77 yards and a score while recording 10 tackles defensively.

“Outstanding day for both of those players,” Driscoll commented. “They’ve been our leaders all season.”

The passing of Lions’ freshman quarterback De’Llontae Johnson was also instrumental in the final home game of the season for the Blue and White.

Johnson clicked on 16 of 21 attempts for 261 yards and three TDs. He also added a 1-yard TD run.

TBC took a 6-0 lead in the opening seconds of the second frame on a one-yard run from Austin Morris. The extra point kick was wide.

Johnson matched score with his running touchdown later in the second period, but the Lions also missed the kick for a 6-6 reading.

Utilizing a very effective option (and some Wildcat plays) running game, the North Dakota team took the lead on a 16-yard score from Landen Bradley, who also had the 2-point run, for a 14-6 lead.

“Defensively, we had to make some adjustments,” Driscoll said. “We just understood our fits better and began to tighten up. You have to give the guys on our team credit for coming out, understanding adjustments and just playing harder than the other team.”

Johnson reduced the lead to 14-13 before the half end when he spiraled a 16-yard scoring pass to Tyler Bonetti. Avery Huibretsge added the kick.

A 61-yard scoring pass from Johnson to Huecksteadt put Finlandia ahead to stay late in the third quarter. The latter made a good move to free himself at the Trinity 35 and go the distance.

Johnson and Kangas clicked on a 43-yard TD play on the final play of the third quarter for a 27-14 reading.

Trinity made it close on Bradley’s short TD run with over three minutes left.

After recovering an onside kick, Finlandia was able to run out the clock. 

Also shining on defense for the winners were Ronnie Keener with eight tackles and a sack, and Brett Beauchaine (two sacks).

The lone senior on the FU roster, Jacob Price, was honored on Senior Day ceremonies.

A Nov. 4 date at Trinity Bible will wrap up this season, leaving the Lions with the offseason to prepare for next year’s entry into the Michigan Intercollegate Athletic Association.

Trinity Bible 0 14 0 7 – 21

Finlandia 0 13 13 0 – 27

First quarter

No scoring

Second quarter

TB – Austin Morris 1 run (kick failed)

FU – De’Llontae Johnson 1 run (kick failed)

TB – Landen Bradley 12 run (Bradley run)

FU – Tyler Bonetti 16 pass from Johnson (Avery Huibretsge kick)

Third quarter

FU – Dillion Hueckstaedt 61 pass from Johnson (Huibretsge kick)

FU – Tyler Kangas 43 pass from Johnson (Huibretsge kick)

Fourth quarter

TB – Bradley 1 run (Anthony Red Cloud kick)

Game stats

First downs: TB 21, FU 17; Rushing: TB 45-277; FU 24-75; Passing: TB 9-17-0-74; FU 16-21-1-261; 

Ind. rushing: TB Bradley 21-125, Morris 13-93; FU Woolever 12-57; Receiving: TB Pena 4-28; FU: Kangas 5-77; Hueckstaedt 2-69; Spates 1-29, Bonetti 2-22.