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Prep Football: Lakes fall to West Iron County, 24-16

Lake Linden-Hubbell running back Jesse Hill rushes against West Iron County on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Lake Linden, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

LAKE LINDEN — West Iron County outlasted Lake Linden-Hubbell’s strong first quarter, then took control in a 24-16 West PAC win Saturday.

Nathan Thomson led the Wykons with 133 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. His success came even after some Wykons’ injuries forced head coach Mike Berutti to shuffle personnel.

“We had to change a few things up. We had a few injuries that factored into how we ran our offense,” Berutti said. “There was a little bit of drawing it up in the dirt, but Nathan, I’ll tell you, is an athlete. He carried the ball and he’s got good vision Lake Linden put — I think it was eight guys on the line. Sometimes it was nine, 10 guys in the box. He made some great cuts and very happy with the way he performed.”

Lake Linden-Hubbell (3-3) fell to a 24-8 deficit before a late fourth-quarter TD made it an eight-point game with a minute left. The Lakes tried an onside kick, but it didn’t roll 10 yards and the Wykons took possession and eventually wore out the clock.

West Iron County (5-1) was slow to start with mistakes. The Lakes’ defense also found ways to keep the Wykons’ offense from rolling.

West Iron County defensive lineman Todd Gallup (57) recovers a fumble from Lake Linden-Hubbell running back Caleb Gregoire (20) on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Lake Linden, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

The Wykons had a touchdown run negated by a penalty before the Lakes took a punt and scored at the end of their first drive. Lake Linden’s Caleb Gregoire punched it in from a yard out with 4:34 left in the first.

But West Iron scored a minute later with a 46-yard run by Thomson, who broke multiple tackles in the teeth of the Lakes’ defense before squirting free and breaking along the left side of the field.

From there it was all Thomson and the Wykons, who scored 18 points in the second and third quarters combined while shutting out the Lakes.

Thomson added another score in the second quarter from 13 yards out for a 14-8 lead with three minutes before the half. He added a 64-yard reception from quarterback Trey Bociek with three seconds left in the third quarter.

Spanish exchange student Mario Fidalgo made a 25-yard field goal five minutes before the 64-yard touchdown in the third. Fidalgo added an extra point after the long touchdown pass.

Lake Linden-Hubbell running back Caleb Klein (33) rushes as West Iron County defensive back Nathan Thomson (22) attempts to make a tackle on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Lake Linden, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

“Our tackling was just poor. Our tackling was very poor,” Lake Linden-Hubbell head coach Andy Crouch said. “Their two long touchdown runs, we had him wrapped up by five, six guys and that’s something we have to get better at. Hopefully we can get a win next week.”

But the Lakes didn’t give up. A fourth-quarter drive lasting just over a minute as Caleb Gregoire scored on a 35-yard run.

“It made things interesting. I think people were getting up to leave and thought it was over,” Crouch said. “Then our guys put together a good little drive, which is good to see. They’ve been fighting all year and that’s the attitude we’ve gotta have — you can’t give up. It was interesting there at the end.”

The Wykons had 297 yards of offense including 195 rushing and 102 passing. The Lakes had 223 yards of offense including 221 rushing and 2 passing.

Caleb Klein led the Lakes’ ground attack with 101 rushing yards on 20 carries. Caleb Gregoire had 96 yards on 15 carries.

West Iron County running back Nathan Thomson (22) rushes as Lake Linden-Hubbell's Cole Gregoire (23) tries to make the tackle on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Lake Linden, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

The win puts the Wykons closer to their fourth straight playoff appearance. West Iron County lost a state quarterfinal to Saginaw Nouvel Catholic in 2017. Berutti said there are improvements to make moving forward.

“We need to regroup. We need to figure some things out,” he said. “We need to get smoother and we gotta get healthy.”

For the Lakes, the loss exposed their struggles with sustaining blocks.

“We struggled sustaining blocks again. We have to work on sustaining our blocks and keeping the chains moving,” Crouch said. “When our drives are three plays, we’re in trouble. We had that in the second quarter. If we can get better at blocking, I think we have a good chance at making the playoffs.”

Lake Linden-Hubbell visits Munising this week, while West Iron County visits Ishpeming.

West Iron County 6 8 10 0 — 24

Lake Linden-Hubbell 8 0 0 8 — 16

First Quarter

LLH — Caleb Gregoire 1 run (2-point conversion), 4:34

WIC — Thomson 46 run (2-point failed), 3:27

Second Quarter

WIC — Thomson 13 run (2-point conversion), 2:55

Third Quarter

WIC — Fidalgo 25 field goal, 5:43

WIC — Thomson 64 pass from Bociek (Fidalgo kick), 0:03

Fourth Quarter

LLH — Caleb Gregoire 35 run (2-point conversion), 1:07

Individual Statistics

RUSHING–WIC, Thomson 17-133, Larson 14-49, Bociek 6-12, Lambert 1-1. LLH, Klein 20-101, Caleb Gregoire 15-96, Hill 7-25, Cole Gregoire 4-(minus 1).

PASSING–WIC, Bociek 3-5-0-102. LLH, Klein 1-3-0-2, Cole Gregoire 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING–WIC, Thomson 1-64, Anderson 1-23, Larson 1-15. LLH, Caleb Gregoire 1-2.

First downs WIC 13; LLH 11

Total yards WIC 297; LLH 223

Rushes-yards WIC 38-195; LLH 46-221

Passing WIC 102; LLH 2

Punt Returns WIC 0-0; LLH 2-6

Kickoff Returns WIC 3-43; LLH 4-48

Interceptions WIC 0; LLH 0

Comp-Att-Int WIC 3-5-0; LLH 1-4-0

Third down WIC 6-10; LLH 4-10

Fourth down WIC 0-0; LLH 2-4

Punts WIC 3-95; LLH 2-69

Fumbles-Lost WIC 0-0; LLH 1-1

Penalties WIC 8-43; LLH 3-10

Time of Possession WIC 22:54; LLH 25:06

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