Emeralds drop opener
MANISTIQUE - The Manistique Emeralds shocked the visiting Miners from Negaunee early in the season opener Friday night. Solid play on defense and back-toback trips to the endzone by Manistique put the Emeralds up by 14 points before Negaunee knew what hit them in the Mid-Peninsula Conference show down.
When the sun set on the 2012 gridiron debut, the Miners dug out of the hole, posting a 42-20 win over their hosts.
“We probably could not have written a better script to start off with,” Coach Todd Kangas said.
It was three and out for the Miners in their opening drive. Faced with third and short, the Emeralds’ Mat Gonzalez and Zach Lindemuth broke though the Miners’ line, wreaking havoc in their backfield and forcing a fumble. Gonzalez came up with the ball, and from there the Emeralds went 47 yards.
They put points on the board when Kenner Broullire punched it in from two yards out. In that possession, Broullire broke free for a 24-yard run to set up the score.
Gonzalez again came up with a big play for the Emeralds on the Miners’ second possession of the quarter. Staring at third-and-one, Gonzalez tackled Tyler LaJoie for a two-yard loss. Going for it, Max Nelson and Jared Edwards came up with the stop, giving the Emeralds the ball at the Miners’ 36-yard line. Taking advantage of another big series by the Emeralds defense, Manistique pushed their lead to 14 when Broullire scored his second TD of the night on a two-yard run.
On the next play, Broullire walked through a hole created by Edwards and Chris Shiner for the score. The kick by Broullire split the uprights, giving the Emeralds a 14-0 lead.
Trailing, the Miners scored on their next four possessions in the second quarter to take a 28-14 lead into the break. Their first score came early in the quarter, when Dustin Goupille crossed the goal line from 13 yards out at the 10:32 mark. Adam Francis scored on the two-point conversion to make the score 14-8.
Following the Emeralds’ first punt of the night, the Miners evened the score when Tanner Uren hit Tyler LaJoie on a 57-yard pass play. Negaunee then took control of the game and the lead when Francis scored off a one-yard run with 5:20 to play in the half.
With time running out Francis broke free on an 88-yard TD run to put the Miners up by 14 points at the break.
Just as they did in the opener, the Emeralds came out and played solid on both sides of the ball early in the third, getting within one score. In the end, however, they were worn down by the Miners rushing attack that chewed up 384-yards of Emerald turf in the win.
Manistique took their opening possession of the second half down to the eight yard line, but the drive stalled there. Manistique cut the Negaunee lead to eight points on their ensuing possession when Kangas hit Nelson from nine yards out. A fumble recovery by Nelson and a 25-yard run by Broullire setup the score. Negaunee responded with a score late in the third and one in the fourth to seal the win.
“There was a lot of teachable moments from the second quarter,” Kangas said. “I really thought the score could have been 14 to 14 or at least 20-14 at the half, but hey had two big plays and we had a lot of missed tackles. We regrouped at half time, got our guys’ heads back to where they needed to be, and played better in the third.”
Manistique put up 210 yards, mostly in the first half – 131 on the ground, and 79 in the air.
Kangas went 7-of-17, one TD and one interception.
“I thought we threw the ball well, we had good protection up front, but had six passes hit our hands that were dropped,” said Kangas.
Nelson and Zack Lambert caught three passes for 35 yards each; Lindemuth one for nine yards.
Broullire led the ground attack, rushing for 111 yards on 20 carries.
The Miners put up 469 yards – 384 on the ground and 85 in the air .
Twenty-six players from Manistique and Big Bay de Noc combine to make up the 2012 Emerald squad, one of the deepest teams in recent seasons.
“The transition went relatively smooth, several are getting a lot of playing time; it’s not even an issue on the team at this point,” said Kangas. “We have quality guys in a lot of positions. A couple did not play this week, and we have a few that got hurt during the game Friday; we need to get them all on the field.”
Manistique travels to Ishpeming to take on the Hematite’s Friday. Ishpeming beat Iron Mountain in their season opener.