Football: Hancock shuts out Gogebic
IRONWOOD — Both Hancock coach Ramon Sague and Gogebic coach Nick Heikkila said the same thing right after their two teams battled it out in the Copper Division West-PAC Conference home opener at Longyear Field on Friday night.
“It was a strange game,” both coaches said.
It was strange because the Miners controlled much of the game and yet lost to the Bulldogs 27-0.
“We only ran four plays in the first quarter and had one first down in the first half,” Sague said. “When we play Wing T teams, we told our guys ‘They will look to find a weakness in our defense and really try to exploit it.’ Their offensive line played great and their backs ran hard. They make it tough on a defense because all they want on every play is 3 1/2 yards and that gets you another first down.”
“Defensively, we couldn’t find the right combination to stop them and we couldn’t handle their nose tackle (Cody Kirkland) on defense. But we’re 2-0 and it feels great to be 2-0. We’ve got a tough game next week against Negaunee.”
Heikkila had another stat that was tough to believe, but it was true.
“We had the ball for 20 minutes out of 24 in the first half,” Heikkila said. “And we had a ton of first downs. We were a couple of big plays from winning. Turnovers are big plays. If you win the turnover battle, you win the game. But our team is improving-our first win is coming. On to next week.
At the end of the first half, Gogebic had 10 first downs to one for Hancock. The Miners out-gained the Bulldogs 204-118 in total yards.
So how did Gogebic manage to not win this game?
Let’s start at the beginning. To start the game, the Miners got the ball on their own 26 yard line.
Heikkila knew his team needed a lot of improvement in the running game after rushing for only 31 yards on 29 carries against Calumet. Heikkila said the line had to stay on their blocks longer and the running backs needed to hit the holes better.
Gogebic marched downfield on a typical ball-control, time-consuming Wing-T drive that ran nearly 10 minutes off the clock. But the drive sputtered out when quarterback Conner Fingeroos was sacked twice and the Miners had an illegal motion penalty.
Gogebic used six different running backs as they matriculated downfield on the long drive-Tommie Lundin, Jamie Jett, Peyton Solberg, Bryce Kirkland, Zach Baross and Sethe Cole all gained positive yardage.
The drive was so impressive that Hancock ran three plays and punted and the first quarter was over.
For Gogebic, the second quarter started just the way the first quarter ended as the Miners picked up two first downs.
But Gogebic’s fortunes were about to change. Fingeroos went back to pass and as he threw he was hit from behind. The ball went into the waiting arms of Hancock’s Austin Salani who returned it for a 48 yard interception for a touchdown. Connor LeClaire kicked the extra point and the Bulldogs had a 7-0 lead at 7:08 of the second quarter.
The Miners got the ball back on their own 35 and drove to the Hancock 4. But on fourth and goal from the Bulldog 4 yard line, Fingeroos’ pass was swatted in the end zone by David Storm as the clock ran out.