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Midgets rout Devils for 8th straight Border Bowl win


Jason Juno/Daily Globe

Hurley’s Mitchell Maki, left, runs as Ironwood’s Jake DiGiorgio closes during Friday’s Border Bowl at Veterans Memorial Field in Hurley.

HURLEY — The Border Bowl is becoming Hurley’s border bash.

It was the Midgets’ eighth straight win over Ironwood in their annual early-season clash. This time Hurley overwhelmed the Red Devils 47-7 at Veterans Memorial Field on Friday night.

Hurley coach Scott Erickson felt good about the win but was already looking ahead to a tough opponent next week.

“It’s good to get a win, our second game now,” Erickson said. “I guess we’ll see on the film what kind of corrections we need to make and we certainly have a tough game coming up here against Lake Linden.”

Lake Linden defeated Baraga 59-6 on Thursday night.

Ironwood has only three seniors, while Hurley has six players who returned for the 2013 season as three-year starters. But Ironwood coach Dan Niemi knew his team has been taught some valuable football lessons on Friday night.

“It’s about being physical and the speed of the game,” Niemi said. “Being aggressive is the No. 1 thing we should learn out of this. We’re about a gear behind and we all need to crank up the intensity and work hard to improve.”

The Red Devils started the game with a three-and-out but got the ball back when Hurley was penalized 15 yards for roughing the punter. On Ironwood’s third play, they went to a trips formation where three receivers went to the right side. Quarterback Adam Mackey was rushed and lofted the ball up. But it came down in the arms of Hurley’s Mitchell Maki, who returned it 57 yards untouched into the north end zone. Roman Lupino ran in the two-point conversion, giving Hurley an 8-0 lead at the 7:36 mark.

Maki had just replaced Jake Colassaco in the secondary after he went down with a leg injury in the first game.

“Right after the pick-six, I told him I did it for him,” Maki said. “He’s my buddy and I was sad to see him go down.”

On Hurley’s next series, the Midgets took only three plays to score. Lupino broke off right tackle and took it 53 yards untouched to the house. The two-point conversion failed, but Hurley led 14-0 with 3:49 left in the first quarter.

Hurley lost all-time leading rusher, Jarret Rhenlund to graduation, but the running back trio of Lupino, Maki and Mark Saari are proving they can get the job done quite well.

After Hurley’s Cameron Rowe recovered a fumble, Hurley made reservations for six by marching 61 yards on three plays with Maki running in a three-yard off tackle play. Hurley’s lead grew to 20-0 with three minutes left in the quarter.

Ironwood mounted a drive highlighted by two long passes from Mackey to Jared Sobolewski. But as Ironwood knocked on the touchdown door, Lupino intercepted a pass on the Red Devil 11-yard line.

About the only thing stopping Hurley was the goal-line, and Saari capped off a long drive by running off tackle with a wave of blockers in front of him and scoring from 60 yards out. Another run conversion failed with the Midgets up 26-0 with 9:28 left in the second quarter.

Hurley got the ball back quickly and quarterback James Sukanen found Maki wide open behind Ironwood’s secondary for a 58-yard TD. Maki also ran in the conversion, giving the Midgets a 34-0 advantage at the 6:01 mark.

“Our DBs can’t let receivers get behind them,” Niemi said. “And our line has to do its job. We all have to do our jobs out there. Mackey gave it all out there and Brody (Stefonich) was a load.”

The sophomore Maki wasn’t through yet. With 54 seconds left in the half, he ran off-tackle, kicked it outside and showed a burst of speed as he scored from 24 yards out. Maki’s extra point kick made it 41-0 and the game was pretty much on ice with running time kicking in for the second half.

Maki finished with four touchdowns, one two-point conversion and an extra point kick. He scored 27 of Hurley’s 47 points.

“When one scores, the whole team scores,” Erickson said. “And it takes a team to get him there. Good for him. He had a good night in his first varsity action at halfback. He’s got a good future in front of him.”

Ironwood got on the scoreboard when Mackey ran option left and pitched it to Stefonich, who ran to pay-dirt from 11-yards out. Freshman Ryan Tibaldo kicked the extra point.

Saari was the game’s top rusher with 126-yards on eight carries, while Roman Lupino added 99 yards on seven attempts.

Stefonich topped the Ironwood rushing attack with 90-yards on 24 rushes, while sophomore Zach Combs had 35-yards with four carries.

Erickson said the defense would focus on slowing down Mackey and the Midgets were successful, as Mackey could only muster 19 yards on five attempts

Mackey was 3 of 7 passing for 40-yards and was picked off three times.

Sukanen was 2 for 2 for 82 yards.

Ironwood (0-1) will play its second non-conference road game in a row as the Red Devils go to Washburn, Wis., on Friday for a 7 p.m. contest.

Hurley (2-0) travels to Lake Linden on Saturday for an early key game in the Great Western Conference. Game time is 12:30.

Ironwood 0 0 0 7 — 7

Hurley 20 21 0 6 — 47

First Quarter

Hur — Mitchell Maki 55 interception return (Roman Lupino run), 7:36

Hur — Lupino 53 run (run failed), 3:49

Hur — Maki 3 run (run failed), :49

Second Quarter

Hur — Mark Saari 60 run (run failed), 9:28

Hur — Maki 59 pass from James Sukanen (Maki run), 6:01

Hur — Maki 24 run (Maki kick), :54

Third Quarter

No scoring

Fourth Quarter

Iwd — Brody Stefonich 10 run (Ryan Tibaldo kick), 7:43

Hur — Michael Brannigan 23 run (kick failed), 3:09

Iwd Hur

First downs 11 11

Rushes-yards 37-157 32-335

Comp-Att-Int 3-7-3 2-2-0

Passing 40 82

Total yards 197 417

Penalties-yards 5-25 4-35

Fumbles-lost 5-2 5-1

Individual statistics

Rushing — Ironwood, Brody Stefonich 24-90, Zach Combs 4-35, Adam Mackey 5-19, Jared Sobolewski 2-11, Jordan Luoma 2-2. Hurley, Mark Saari 8-126, Roman Lupino 7-99, Mitchell Maki 8-45, Michael Brannigan 3-29, Nick Fink 4-23, Cole Huotari 1-7, Jake Tenlen 1-6.

Passing — Ironwood, Adam Mackey 3-7-40-3. Hurley, James Sukanen, 2-2-82-0.

Receiving — Ironwood, Jared Sobolewski 2-40, Brody Stefonich 1-0. Hurley, Mitchell Maki 1-59, Roman Lupino 1-23.

—Jason Juno contributed to this report


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