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Purple Reign: L’Anse gets convincing 39-20 win over Houghton

L'Anse running back Dysean Allen rushes as Houghton's Milo Schaefer defends on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Houghton, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — In football, turnovers will kill you.

It’s an axiom that the Houghton Gremlins learned the hard way in their 20-39 loss to the L’Anse Purple Hornets Friday night at home.

Both teams entered Week 2 of the season at 0-1.

“It feels good to get that first win,” said L’Anse head coach Mark Leaf. “We cleaned up some of our mistakes from last week (against Hancock). We missed some opportunities on offense during that game and this week we cashed them in. We had three turnovers (last week), and this week we didn’t have any.”

In the first half, a blocked punt and a fumble turned what should have been a 12-12 game at half time into an 18-6 lead for the Purple Hornets (1-1) at the midway point.

Houghton running back Nathan Erva, right, runs as L'Anse's Jonah Dowd defends on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Houghton, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

The blocked punt occurred with 3:44 left in the first quarter. As Reed Heathman took the snap for the Gremlins (0-2) his attempt was stifled by a L’Anse lineman and picked up by Tristan Stockton who ran it into the end zone for six points.

The Gremlins came back, however, to tie it at the start of the second quarter. At the 10:31 mark, junior Nathan Erva ended a 65-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown dash.

Six minutes later the Purple Hornets made it 12-6. Senior Paul Lister-Jacobson grabbed a 10-yard pass from quarterback Presley Rasanen and punched it through the goal line.

The Gremlins then took over and marched into the Purple Hornets side of the field. On second down, quarterback Tedd Halonen handed the ball off to Erva who fumbled that ball at around the 23-yard line. The Purple Hornets dived on it and capitalized on it as the marched down the field for another touchdown just as the horn sounded at halftime. They led 18-6.

“I told the team at halftime that we have got to eliminate mistakes,” said Gremlins head coach Kurt Huffmaster. “We have to fix the things that we were doing wrong.”

The second half was in turn a better half for the Gremlins.

While the Purple Hornets added another touchdown on their first drive of the third quarter, Houghton put together a 65-yard drive that ended in a touchdown. Halonen turned to Zapolnik on the ground for two first-down runs and hit Erva for a 10-yard pass and a touchdown. Erva also was successful with the two-point conversion and that put the Gremlins within ten of the Purple Hornets at 14-24.

“Not all was lost on this game,” Huffmaster said. “Nathan ran the ball very well, and Xavier played better in the second half as he found his holes to run through. Ted is getting better at quarterback as well.”

The Gremlins scored again with 5:38 on the clock in the fourth. After a 53-yard march, Halonen scampered into the end zone on second and goal to make cut the Gremlins’ deficit at 20-24.

An unsuccessful onside kick however put the Purple Hornets on the Gremlins 47-yard line as they mounted their first fourth-quarter attack.

They moved the ball up to the 30-yard line. On fourth-and-3, running back Jonah Dowd took the ball broke a few tackles and scooted into the end zone The were successful on their two-point attempt.

That touchdown seemed to take the wind out of the Gremlin’s sails according to Huffmaster. Halfway through the fourth quarter Halonen threw a rushed pass that was intercepted. The Purple Hornets turned it into a touchdown and an extra point just a few downs later.

The Purple Hornets host the Gogebic Miners next week, while the Gremlins host Iron Mountain.

L’Anse 6 12 6 15 — 39

Houghton 0 6 8 6 — 20

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