Prep Football: Gremlins survive Gogebic, 12-6

IRONWOOD — When two football teams have one win between them after each playing five games this season, you would have to believe their game would be a close matchup.

But the Gogebic Miners seemed to had some advantages going into the game as it was their Homecoming, they had played well at home and they desperately wanted to end the 14-game losing streak dating back to the first game of 2018.

And the Miners caught another break when Houghton’s best running back, Xander Zapolnik, was on the sideline in street clothes with his arm in a sling.

Despite all that, Houghton spoiled Gogebic’s big Homecoming plans with a fourth quarter, tiebreaking run that gave the Gremlins a 12-6 win on Friday night at Longyear Field.

“The score was close (and tied in the fourth quarter) and we had a chance to pull it out,” Gogebic coach Nick Heikkila said. “But penalties, mistakes and turnovers-for whatever reason we keep getting those.

Any penalty we could have gotten, we did. It’s extremely frustrating-it always hurts when you know you could have won.

The kids’ psyche? They are resilient, but we need to be mentally tougher if we want to be successful. We weren’t mentally tough enough tonight, we came out flat surprisingly at Homecoming.”

Houghton coach Kurt Huffmaster wasn’t especially pleased with how his team played on Friday night.

“We played poorly on offense,” Huffmaster said. “We had way too many unforced errors. We had a couple consistent plays and moved the ball, but things didn’t click for us. Gogebic played good. I heard they played people tough, but they had too many mistakes.”

Just before halftime, the Gremlins marched down to the Gogebic 27-yard line and Ty Halonen dashed for a touchdown on a counter play as Houghton went up 6-0 at the half.

Even though both teams moved the ball in the third quarter, neither could read pay-dirt mainly because their own penalties fizzled out drives.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Gremlins were punting when the ball was snapped over the punter’s head. Gogebic swarmed to the ball and recovered at the Houghton 14-yard line. Two quick passes to Morgan Miskovich put the ball on the 2 and Fingeroos plunged in from there to tie the game at 6-6 with 4:31 left in the game.

But the Gremlins quickly answered back when Nathan Evra went up the middle and scampered 43 yards for a TD with 3:46 left. Houghton led 12-6 for good.

Another close one had slipped away.

The Gremlins (1-5) had 240 total yards to Gogebic’s 169.

The Miners (0-6) travel to Negaunee for another conference game on Friday night.