Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Midgets turn shootout with Miners into blowout

HURLEY - Once defense arrived at Friday's game, it stole the show.

The Hurley Midgets, buoyed by two third-quarter takeaways, shut out the Gogebic Miners in the second half for a 54-28 Great Western Conference victory.

Gogebic recovered quickly from last week's humbling trip to Lake Linden and led the Midgets 28-27 at the half in a fast-paced shootout. But things quickly went Hurley's way after halftime.

"We scuffled a bit in the first half. They were coming really quick downhill, in between the tight ends," Hurley coach Scott Erickson said. "We didn't tackle real well, we blitzed to the backfield and that's not what you should do, you should blitz to the linemen and blow them up and create the wall. Once we got them in at halftime, settled them down, made an adjustment; second half, we played a lot better on defense."

It took fewer than two minutes for the Midgets to score when Ronnie Nickel capped a five-play, 54-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run. That gave Hurley a 33-28 lead with 10:02 left in the third quarter.

Momentum finished swinging all the way to Hurley on the next drive.

The Miners drove to the Hurley 23 when backup quarterback Luke Zielinski threw an interception to Nickel, who returned it 78 yards for a touchdown.

"That jacked us up a lot," Hurley linebacker Jacob Saari said.

Hurley led 39-28. Before that, neither team had scored two consecutive times.

Zielinski was under heavy pressure from Hurley, including Devin Czerneski, who nearly had him sacked.

"We were in a scramble mode because we had players cramping, we had players injured and we had a lot of players playing out of position," Gogebic coach Mark Movrich said. "They knew we had our other quarterback in. We had just been running, running, running. They brought everybody up to the line. We were hopeful we could sneak somebody behind and make a play. There was still a lot of ballgame after that, but it did seem to take the wind out of our sails and give them new life."

That pick six brought Hurley's defense to life.

On Gogebic's next possession, the Midgets' Erik Barker stuffed Shane Cole for a one-yard loss. Then Czerneski sacked quarterback Tim Buerger for a 10-yard loss.

"We just got fired up in the second half," Saari said. "Coach (Dave) Lundin got us going. We started talking some more on defense and started communicating."

A pass interference call wasn't enough to give Gogebic a first down. On third down, Saari stopped Buerger for a one-yard loss. On fourth and two, Caleb Greenough's fumble was recovered by Isaac DeCarlo at the Gogebic 44.

"If we drive down and score then, we're right back in the ballgame, we're only down five points," Movrich said. "We had opportunities, but hats off to them. We've got to get healthy and ready to go next week."

Two plays later, Hurley iced the game. Nickel ran 44 yards for a TD and his conversion run made it 47-28 Hurley with 2:26 left in the third quarter.

Nickel ended the day with three touchdowns, all in the third quarter. He was one of three Hurley backs to finish with more than 100 yards rushing. He had 112. Czerneski led the Midgets with 129 yards and Mitchell Maki tallied 116. Maki scored two TDs, including the game's final score in the fourth quarter.

"Our offense was solid tonight; the line blocking was fantastic, they made awesome walls, they picked up blitzes well," Erickson said. "It's probably the best offensively we've been all year against some tough kids over there from Gogebic."

The Midgets held the Miners to just 35 yards in the second half.

"We played a little bit more cover 3," Erickson said. "We talked about doing your job and not trying to get knockout blows. They have good, tough running backs and they'll run through arm tackles. That's exactly what they did."

Hurley started the game as good as it could have. Gogebic went three and out and the Midgets scored on the following drive, capped by a two-yard run by Maki.

The Miners marched into Hurley territory but fumbled at the Hurley 17. It was recovered by Matt Christoferson.

Gogebic forced a punt and Collin Gagnon returned it 78 yards for a Gogebic touchdown. Hurley led 7-6 after the first quarter.

The Miners outscored the Midgets 22-20 in the second quarter. The only thing that stopped either team was the time ran out on the half with the Midgets at the Gogebic 12.

Czerneski went 18 yards for a score. Gogebic's Buerger hit Greenough to answer. On the ensuing kickoff, Hurley's Kris Bluse caught the ball on the run and the track runner flew to a 75-yard TD.

The Miners' response was a 17-yard TD pass from Buerger to Ben Bogaczyk.

DeCarlo went 24 yards on a quarterback keepout play. But Gagnon ran the kick back to the Hurley 29 and Shane Cole ran eight yards for a touchdown with 45 seconds left in the half.

Gogebic led 28-27 at intermission.

"We played hard," Movrich said. "We're playing a lot of good football teams. It's kind of taken a toll on us because we're not having any of the breather games where we can coast and let up. Kids are getting nicked up and banged up. It's kind of a war of attrition really."

The Midgets are unsure if the win clinched a playoff berth or not. They are looking to clear up some confusion if a team in their situation, an independent in the eyes of the WIAA, needs five wins or six wins.

Hurley (5-1) goes to Bark River-Harris next Friday. Gogebic (1-4) goes to North Dickinson Friday.

Gogebic 6 22 0 0 - 28

Hurley 7 20 20 7 - 54

First Quarter

Hur - Mitchell Maki 2 run (Maki kick), 8:38

Gog - Collin Gagnon 78 punt return (pass failed), :06

Second Quarter

Hur - Devin Czerneski 18 run (kick failed), 9:08

Gog - Caleb Greenough 15 pass from Tim Buerger (run failed), 5:18

Hur - Kris Bluse 75 kick return (pass failed), 5:06

Gog - Ben Bogaczyk 17 pass from Buerger (Shane Cole run), 4:31

Hur - Isaac DeCarlo 24 run (Maki run), 3:16

Gog - Shane Cole 8 run (Buerger run), :45

Third Quarter

Hur - Ronnie Nickel 3 run (run failed), 10:02

Hur - Nickel 78 interception return (run failed), 5:43

Hur - Nickel 44 run (Nickel run), 2:26

Fourth Quarter

Hur - Maki 13 run (Maki kick), 5:50

Gog Hur

First downs 10 17

Rushes-yards 41-186 43-409

Comp-att-int 2-8-2 1-4-0

Passing 32 19

Total yards 218 428

Penalties-yards 5-35 8-55

Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-0

Individual statistics

Rushing - Gogebic, Shane Cole 11-59, Caleb Greenough 10-42, Tim Buerger 9-31, Collin Gagnon 6-29, Brayden Tomes 4-22, Luke Zielinski 1-3. Hurley, Devin Czerneski 14-129, Mitchell Maki 11-116, Ronnie Nickel 9-112, Isaac DeCarlo 5-46, Brad Ihm 1-5, Kris Bluse 1-2, Josh Quello 1-1, Alex Czarnecki 1-minus 2.

Passing - Gogebic, Tim Buerger 2-6-32-0, Luke Zielinski 0-1-0-1, Collin Gagnon 0-1-0-1. Hurley, Isaac DeCarlo 1-4-19-0.