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North Central rolls by LL-H in regional semis, 52-8

Lake Linden-Hubbel’s Caleb Klein (33) rushes past North Central’s Fabian Chartier (27) on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Powers, Mich. (Justin St. Ours/Escanaba Daily Press)

POWERS — The No. 2 North Central Jets left very little to chance here Saturday in a 52-8 MHSAA eight-player Division 2 regional football victory over the No. 4 Lake Linden-Hubbell Lakes.

“We’re glad to have it over,” said Jets’ coach Leo Gorzinski. “They’re a physical team. They were hard to tackle and they hit good.”

North Central (8-0) hosts Cedarville (7-1) in a regional final next weekend. The Lakes finished 4-3.

The Jets needed only 14 seconds to get on the board on this sunny and mild afternoon as Alex Naser grabbed the opening kickoff and dashed 75 yards for the first touchdown.

LL-H turned the ball over on downs on the North Central 36-yard line on its first possession.

The Jets then marched 64 yards in 10 plays, taking a 14-0 lead on a one-yard run up the middle by sophomore quarterback Luke Gorzinski.

North Central then took advantage of a high snap from center, gaining possession on the Lakes’ 10. Wyatt Raab broke through the middle on the next play for a 22-0 cushion.

“I expected us to come out hard as always,” he said. “We had a lot of guys out when we played them the first time (in a 34-22 win at LL-H on Oct. 17). We knew it’d be a little different this time with everybody back. It was a fun game. It was also a very physical game. They played hard and we felt every hit.

“I actually like it when we kick off first because it gets rid of some of my nerves, although it doesn’t always go that way.”

Luke Gorzinski did all his passing in the first half, completing 7 of 9 passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns. He had scoring passes of 25 and 45 yards to Ian Gorzinski and one for 34 yards to Naser.

“Luke is a young leader and huge part of our team,” Raab said. “He can block which is something you don’t always see in a quarterback.”

North Central ended its scoring with three minutes, four seconds left in the second stanza when Naser snake-trailed 44 yards for its final TD.

LL-H needed just three plays to cover 80 yards for its lone TD as senior running back Caleb Klein scored its lone TD on a 77-yard burst through the middle on its opening possession in the third frame.

“They came out more prepared than we did in the second half and forced us to keep our starters in longer than we wanted to,” said coach Gorzinski. “Their team gave us all the looks we wanted. The field and weather conditions matched up in our favor which tends to give other teams nightmares. It gives us space and we go to work.

“Everybody gives our offense credit for everything it does, but our defense is also very strong. It comes down to technique and speed and we’re utilizing both. This was a good tune-up for next week. They battle tested us.”

The Jets, who elected to work on their ground game in the second half, rushed for 103 of their 250 yards. Raab finished with 35 yards on seven carries and back-up QB Brett LaBonte ran seven times for 34.

LL-H gained most of its 185 yards in the second half. Klein recorded 116 on 16 carries and senior Bode Brinkman added 46 in five attempts. Senior QB Brandon LaVigne was 1 of 7 passing for 19.

“They (Jets) have a lot of athletes,” said LL-H coach Brett Gervais. “They showed little different alignments than we expected. We weren’t able to do what we wanted to do with our running game. I like the fight in our kids. They did a tremendous job. They kept playing hard which says a lot for our kids.”

LL-Hubbell 0 0 8 0 — 8

North Central 30 22 0 0 — 52

First Quarter

NC — Naser, 75 kickoff return (2-point failed), 11:46

NC — L. Gorzinski, 1 run (L. Gorzinski run), 5:43

NC — Raab, 10 run (L. Gorzinski pass to C. Eichmeier), 3:56

NC — L. Gorzinski, 25 pass to I. Gorzinski (L. Gorzinski run), 1:34

Second Quarter

NC — L. Gorzinski, 34 pass to Naser (2-point failed), 11:47

NC — L. Gorzinski, 45 pass to I. Gorzinski (C. LaFave run), 7:17

NC — Naser, 44 run (Raab run), 3:04

Third Quarter

LL-H — Klein, 77 run (Codere run), 9:50

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