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Football: Hancock dominates Gwinn in season opener, 43-6

Hancock’s Austin Salani (14) rushes against Gwinn on Friday in Hancock. (David Archambeau/For the Gazette)

HANCOCK – It was the return of Friday-night lights at McAfee Field as the Hancock Bulldogs faced off against the Gwinn Modeltowners on the gridiron. While the game started off slowly, it quickly became a showcase by the Bulldogs as they posted a 43-6 victory.

“We just made too many mistakes,” Gwinn coach Ben Olsen said. “Hancock is too good a team to give that many chances to.”

It began with less than a minute to go in the first. Gwinn (0-1) took over on their own 28. However on their first play they fumbled the ball and Hancock (1-0) took over. Bulldog quarterback Connor LeClaire hit Carsen Chynoweth for a 30-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was good and it was 7-0.

It was deja vu all over again as the second quarter started. After the kickoff to Gwinn, they fumbled again. Three plays later senior Austin Salani took off for a 16-yard touchdown sprint. In less than two minutes, the team from Gwinn had given up two turnovers that resulted in two scores for the Bulldogs.

Both teams traded downs, and at the 9:39 mark the Bulldogs started off on their own 29-yard line. It took one play and LeClaire tucked the ball in and took off for a 71-yard sprint for the end zone. The score was now 21-0.

Five minutes later LeClaire was at it again with a 54-yard run at the 4:08 mark to make it a 27-0 lead. The momentum was definitely on Hancock’s side as the Modeltowners struggled to put any offense together or defense to slow the Bulldog machine.

“We have some weapons on offense,” Bulldogs coach Ramon Sague said. “And I like the way our offensive line is coming on. It. It’s something we’ve been working hard on.”

Salani snagged a pass from Gwinn’s quarterback Shafaar Evans with 3:10 to go in the second. One play later, Bulldog running back Cole Stuber punched it into the endzone to make it 33-0.

The first half ended with a razzle- dazzle play that once again put Salani and LeClaire center stage. They combined for nearly 250 yards.

LeClaire received the snap and tossed it back to Salani who faded back with plenty of time on his hand and eventually launched a 28-yard bomb to a wide-open LeClaire in the endzone.

Hancock had a yawning 43-0 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, junior quarterback Brad Johnson relieved LeClaire. He threw an interception at 3:46 and Gwinn took over at around the 12 yard line. At third and goal, their quarterback Carl Peterson sneaked it pass the goal line for the Modeltowners only score of the night.

Gwinn got on the board after an interception by lineman Colin Gheringhelli, who took the ball to the Hancock 3-yard line.

Carl Peterson scored from short range after four plays.

LeClaire rushed for 133 yards, while Salani added 114 more on just ten carries.

The Bulldogs will face Gogebic next week at home.

Olsen took over as Modeltowners head coach after previous coach Dion Brown died Jan. 22.

Gwinn 0 0 6 0 — 6

Hancock 7 36 0 0 — 43

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