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Football: Gremlins top Miners 15-13 in OT

Houghton’s Kaiden Zapolnik (45) rushes against Negaunee on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, in Houghton, Mich. (David Archambeau/For the Gazette)

HOUGHTON — A powerful Negaunee High football team got all it wanted from the Houghton Gremlins Friday night.

And a little more.

The little more came when Gremlins stunned the favored Miners in overtime, 15-13.

An ecstatic first-year skipper Micah Stipech wasn’t sure if the win was the biggest in school history, “but it will do.”

“I can’t say enough about the way these kids played tonight,” Stipech said. “The effort was there all night.”

Senior tailback Nathan Erva, a Gremlins standout all night at Alumni Field, broke a 7-7 deadlock on the very first play of the extra frame, breaking a tackle and racing 10 yards to the end zone.

“He (Erva) made an unreal run,” Stipech said. “It looked like the play was stopped at the line of scrimmage, but he kept going and the line kept blocking. All that extra practice in the summer paid off tonight.”

Erva ran it in again on the two-point conversion for a 15-7 lead.

But the anxious time for the Gremlins was not over.

Brad Nelson scored from three yards away on the Miners’ second play from scrimmage to make it 15-13.

Negaunee quarterback Gerald Johnson’s pass on fourth down fell incomplete and HHS players and fans were in full celebration mode.

“Negaunee is as good as any team in the U.P.,” Stipech said. “Our goal was to stick with them as long as we could and see what happened.”

The play of the Houghton defense was outstanding on a chilly evening. Milo Schaefer, Dhane Heikkila, Jackson Boree, Caleb Laidlaw and Tedd Halonen led the charge.

Negaunee struck first, scoring a blocked punt on the final play of the opening quarter.

Nelson went in from three yards away and the kick was good by Phil Nelson.

The Miners marched to the Houghton-6 late in the first half, but were repulsed.

“That was a big moment in the game,” Stipech said. “If they score there, it’s a two touchdown lead.”

The Gremlins took the second half kickoff and marched 77 yards in 7 plays.

A 45-yard pass from quarterback Cameron Mitchell to Blake Willey was the key play in the drive, which was capped off by a 1-yard run by Markham.

The PAT kick was good by William Flaherty to make it 7-7.

Both teams had their chances in the second half, but Flaherty missed a 23-yard field goal try early in the fourth period.

His 19-yard field goal later in the game was deflected by the Miners big line.

That set up the exciting overtime period.

Erva rushed for 89 yards in 14 carries to pace the offense. Markham also completed some important passes in the second half, with Willey and Reed Heathman key targets.

The Miners were led by Nelson’s 91 yards in 16 tries.

Houghton (2-0-1) plays Hancock next week for the Copper Bowl.

Negaunee 0 7 0 0 6 — 13

Houghton 0 0 7 0 8 — 15

Second Quarter

NHS — B. Nelson 3 run (P. Nelson kick)

Third Quarter

HHS — Erva 1 run (Flaherty kick)

Overtime

HHS — Erva 1 run (Erva run)

NHS — B. Nelson 2 run (pass failed)

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