Midgets drop OT thriller to Calumet


Jason Juno/Daily Globe

Hurley's Tim Buerger goes through the air to haul in a pass during Friday night's game against Calumet at Veteran Memorial Field in Hurley.

HURLEY - Why'd they wait so long?

In the Midgets' first year in the West-PAC, they went toe-to-toe with defending champion and perennial power Calumet, dropping an absolute thriller 26-20 in overtime Friday night.

Neither team was perfect, as they combined for 10 turnovers. But both teams fought through that, rode the roller coaster of four lead changes and made fans wish the Midgets had been in the West-PAC for years.

It was a heartbreaking way to lose for the Midgets, who nonetheless have entered the West-PAC with a bang.

"Our kids competed well, they showed they belong here," Hurley coach Scott Erickson said.

He got no argument from Calumet coach John Croze.

"What a great game for our kids," he said. "Several times we overcame adversity, so proud of our kids, I'm proud of the Hurley kids. If you were here tonight, you watched one heck of a high school football game.

"It's certainly a big win for us. They have a boatload of talent here. We knew what we were getting into when we came down here. ... Hat's off to coach Erickson and Hurley. What a great addition to our conference. What a great season in the West-PAC."

The Midgets took a 20-14 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Calumet tied it midway through the frame to force overtime, where the Midgets simply ran out of gas.

"I think we were really tired," Erickson said. "We couldn't move them off the ball at all. They had started to take a little bit of charge in the late third, early fourth .We just couldn't find a play that was going to be a real effective yard gainer. And that got to be tough."

After Devin Czerneski went 19 yards for a Hurley touchdown and a 20-14 lead with 11:23 left in regulation, the Midgets only got one other first down the rest of the way - by penalty.

Two plays after Hurley went ahead 20-14, the Midgets' Jordan Wolfe recovered a Calumet fumble, the fifth of six Copper Kings' turnovers.

Hurley got the ball at its own 46, but the Midgets only kept it for one play as quarterback Isaac DeCarlo's pass was picked off by Trevor Johnson at the 25.

Hurley had the momentum and Calumet got it back immediately, tying the game on the ensuing possession.

"You don't want to pass on third and fourth down when they think you're going to pass," Erickson said. "You'd like to take a chance on first down. I took a sudden-change shot and he was open. We just didn't get it out of there in time."

"It had to be on a first down because they had both safeties up in there. We just couldn't find a way to block some of their guys. That's coaching. You take a shot every once and a while. Sometimes they work out great, sometimes they don't."

Croze said that was a big, but understandable, moment in this back-and-forth game.

"You get stuff like that, the 12th round of a heavyweight fight and we're throwing haymakers at each other," he said.

The Copper Kings marched 75 yards, capping the nine-play drive on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Russ Bjorn to Jack Sturos. A reverse attempt on the conversion was stuffed. The game was tied at 20-20.

The Midgets didn't get a first down on either of their last two drives in regulation, not after Calumet's TD or after DeCarlo intercepted a Bjorn pass with 3:39 to go.

The Midgets got the ball first in overtime and struggled to get any yardage. Facing fourth and 10, DeCarlo was short of the first down, but Calumet was called for a face mask, giving Hurley first down at the 14.

It lost yardage and ended up in a fourth and 11 situation when Rory Anderson picked off DeCarlo's pass in the end zone.

It took Calumet three plays to end it once it got the ball. Brock Poyhonen broke free and scored from 12 yards out to end the thriller.

"That was just a trap up the middle," Croze said. "That was our goal when we were able to hold them out of the end zone. We were going to go straight at them and try and grind it out in four plays, 2.5 yards a crack and get first downs. I think when we held them, our energy level shot up and we just executed so well on those last three plays."

Croze agreed with Erickson that Calumet had more in the tank in the extra session.

"We were just really snapping off the ball," he said. "Just the excitement and energy level at the end of a heavyweight fight like that was a tribute to how hard we practice."

Both teams fumbled on their first possession of the game. Devin Czerneski recovered Calumet's but then fumbled after running for a first down well into Calumet territory.

Hurley was back in Calumet territory again in the first quarter, but Anderson intercepted a pass and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown. Russ Bjorn ran in the conversion to give Calumet an 8-0 lead.

The Copper Kings came up with a huge defensive stop in the second quarter. The Midgets used 17 plays, but Calumet stopped a fourth and goal run attempt at the 1 yard line.

It somehow didn't get Hurley down. Later in Calumet's ensuing possession, Ryley Eitrem hit Bjorn and Devon Lino recovered the fumble that hit caused.

On the first play of their drive, Czerneski got loose for a 33-yard touchdown run. The conversion try failed and Hurley was within 8-6.

The Midgets got the ball first in the second half and took advantage, scoring on a five-yard run by DeCarlo. That gave Hurley a 12-8 lead.

Calumet answered right back, scoring on a two-yard by David Kaipio. That gave Calumet a 14-12 lead.

Hurley punted but got the ball back on an interception by Tim Buerger.

The Midgets cashed in 37 seconds into the fourth quarter on a 19-yard run by Czerneski, who led everyone with 116 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns.

DeCarlo found Tandrell Foster for the conversion, giving Hurley a 20-14 lead.

That's when Calumet fumbled, Hurley threw an interception on the next play and Calumet was able to tie it at 20-20 to force overtime.

"I'm proud of how our kids fought and give Calumet a lot credit, too," Erickson said. "Those kids play tough, they play fast, they tackle well."

The momentum changes in this went well behind the four times the teams exchanged the lead as Calumet turned it over six times and Hurley four.

"We have to make better decisions. A lot of that is, I think we have kids trying to do too much at times and trying to push it a little bit. We've got to avoid that. You can't always overcome six turnovers and win a big game like that," Croze said.

The stats were practically identical with Hurley outgaining Calumet 287-281.

Hurley (3-1) hosts Northland Pines Friday night.

Calumet 8 0 6 6 6 - 26

Hurley 0 6 6 8 0 - 20

First Quarter

Cal - Rory Anderson 69 interception return (Russ Bjorn run), 2:42

Second Quarter

Hur - Devin Czerneski 33 run (run failed), 1:05

Third Quarter

Hur - Isaac DeCarlo 5 run (pass failed), 9:16

Cal - David Kaipio 2 run (run failed), 5:12

Fourth Quarter

Hur - Czerneski 19 run (Tandrell Foster from DeCarlo), 11:23

Cal - Jack Sturos 29 pass from Bjorn (run failed), 6:16


Cal - Brock Poyhonen 12 run

Cal Hur

First downs 15 13

Rushes-yards 39-218 53-246

Comp-Att-Int 4-11-3 3-7-3

Passing 63 41

Total yards 281 287

Fumbles-lost 3-3 1-1

Penalties-yards 5-25 7-40

Individual statistics

Rushing - Calumet, Rory Anderson 12-63, Grant Johnson 6-52, David Kaipio 7-35, Russ Bjorn 9-34, Brock Poyhonen 5-34. Hurley, Devin Czerneski 19-116, Isaac DeCarlo 11-66, Kris Bluse 9-32, Tim Buerger 13-32, Riley Eitrem 1-0.

Passing - Calumet, Russ Bjorn, 4-11-63-3. Hurley, Isaac DeCarlo 3-7-41-3.

Receiving - Calumet, Jack Sturos 2-38, David Kaipio 1-16, Trevor Johnson 1-9. Hurley, Kris Bluse 2-12, Tim Buerger 1-29.


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