Come up short in impressive showing in negaunee
Trailing with an opportunity to knock off the perennial powerhouse Negaunee Miners on their own turf, the Emeralds marched 65 yards, but the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter stalled. From there, Negaunee controlled the clock and escaped with a 36-30 Mid-Peninsula Conference victory.
“We had two very good drives that did not end in a score,” Coach Todd Kangas said. “Overall I thought we had a good balance between our run and pass game Friday. We performed well, had a lot of guys contribute. Offensively, it was a solid game, one of our better statistically.”
On the other side of the ball, Kangas said big plays hurt and ended up being the difference in the outcome of their season opener.
“It’s hard to give up 36 points and expect to win, our guys just need to understand that better,” he explained. “We need to be more disciplined and focused on what we are doing on the field. We have some things we need to work on, we are far from a finished product, but we made good progress.”
Big plays set the tone early in Negaunee. The Miners’ Tyler La- Joie broke free on a 66-yard touchdown run to put Negaunee up early.
Manistique responded when no one could catch Tony Floyd, who crossed the goal line from 72-yards out. Locked at eight points each, LaJoie took the ensuing kick back 80-yards for the Miners’ second score. The two point conversion gave Negaunee a 16-8 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
While both teams moved the ball well on the ground in the opener, it was an aerial attack that led to scores by each team in the second.
Negaunee pushed their lead to 22-8 when Ryan Syrjala connected with Zane Radloff on a 30-yard touchdown. LaJoie added two more on the conversion.
With time running out in the half, Tyler Kangas hit Cole Potvin for a 9-yard touchdown. Kangas then hit Floyd in the end zone to close out the half trailing 24-16.
Coming off the break, the Miners struck early when Syrjala took the ball and found the end zone from 66 yards out on the first play of the third quarter. The conversion by LaJoie pushed the Miners lead to 30-16.
Down by 14 points, the Emeralds went back to the ground and pounded out two TDs on short runs by Mike Brock and Chris Shiner to lock the game at 30 with less than seven minutes to play in the contest.
A five yard run by Syrjala put Negaunee back on top 36-30 in the fourth.
Down with plenty of time on the clock, Manistique mounted a drive that started at their own 30- yard line. They drove down to the Miners’ seven, but couldn’t pick up the necessary yards to keep the chains moving one more time.
Taking over on downs from their seven, Negaunee picked up two key first downs and ran out the clock.
Manistique racked up an impressive 427 total yards on a usually stingy Negaunee defense. Floyd led the ground rushing for 177 yards on 19 carries, Kangas added 38, Brock 17 yards.
Kangas was equally impressive going 17-of-24 in the air for 195 yards and one TD while hitting five different targets.
Potvin hauled in eight passes for 105 yards; Coby Ryan caught three for 43 yards, Floyd 3-23, Brock 2-19 and Travis Bolm 1-5 yards.
The Emeralds’ defense held the Miners to 341 total yards; 291 on the ground and 50 in the air.
The Emeralds will be put to the test again Friday when they host the Ishpeming Hematites.
Ishpeming, who made it all the way to the MHSSA Division 7 Championship in Detroit last November, hammered Iron Mountain 36-0 in their season opener.