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Football: LL-H runs through Norway in opener

Lakes beat Knights without QB Crouch

Lake Linden-Hubbell quarterback Brandon Lavigne, right, looks for the end zone against Norway on Saturday in Norway. (Matt “Sweets” McCarthy/Iron Mountain Daily News)

NORWAY — There’s no doubt the Lake Linden-Hubbell Lakes were facing adversity heading into their football opener here Saturday afternoon.

The Lakes lost senior quarterback and All-Upper Peninsula Small School defensive back Carter Crouch to a torn ACL in a pre-season scrimmage, forcing them to find a replacement.

Junior Brandon Lavigne stepped in for Crouch and ran for a touchdown and threw for another as the Lakes posted a 32-14 win over the Norway Knights.

“When you lose a player like Carter, you don’t replace him,” said Lakes’ coach Andy Crouch. “With the injury situation being what it is, a lot of kids had to step up, and I can probably list about 10 different players who stepped up. Norway has a quality team and some outstanding players. This is a big win for us.”

Lavigne scored on an 8-yard keeper around right end for a 16-7 lead and completed his lone aerial, a 46-yard score on a tipped ball to senior end Caleb Gregoire for a 24-7 cushion, both in the second quarter of the WestPAC Conference Iron Division matchup.

Lake Linden (1-0) never trailed in the game.

Norway (0-1) trimmed its deficit to 24-14 on a 79-yard burst up the middle by senior running back Ethan Sabotta with four minutes, nine seconds left in the third frame.

“I really thought we had momentum going our way in the second half,” Norway’s Scott Popp said after his coaching debut. “It looked like they were starting to get a little tired. Their line is quick. Their backs were able to read our defense and we couldn’t find the ball. Coach Crouch does a real good job with that offense. They carry their fakes out excellent.”

A 3-yard plunge by senior Jesse Hill put the Lakes up by 18 points with 7:50 left in the contest and an interception in the end zone by Gregoire secured what is believed to be their first-ever victory over Norway at 3:32.

“The kids got to their quarterback, which disrupted what they were trying to do,” said coach Crouch. “Our players controlled the line of scrimmage today and our backs ran well.”

LL-H took an 8-0 lead on senior Cole Gregoire’s 17-yard run around left end with 3:24 left in the first quarter.

Norway responded quickly, climbing within 8-7 on a 55-yard dash around left end by Sabotta at 1:41.

Caleb Gregoire then took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 47 yards to the Norway 22, setting the Lakes up with their second touchdown.

The Knights threatened before halftime, moving to the Lakes’ 11 with 18 seconds remaining.

Senior QB Nathan Paulitch was then sacked for an 11-yard loss and his pass was intercepted by junior Caleb Klein as the half expired.

“It seemed like we were the ones who had the bus ride,” Popp said. “At halftime, we could see it in their eyes. The fire wasn’t there. We just weren’t into it.”

Junior Luke Marcotte also had an interception, setting up the Lakes’ final score.

The Lakes, who host Ishpeming Saturday, finished with 236 yards in total offense. Norway travels to Munising Friday.

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