Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Midgets win another shootout

HURLEY - Hurley picked up its fifth straight win and fourth consecutive in shootout fashion 48-34 over North Dickinson Friday night.

Both teams tallied more than 400 yards of offense and scored 20 points apiece in a fourth quarter that was a one-possession game until the Midgets iced it with a touchdown with 1:16 to go.

Hurley's Devin Czerneski rushed for 204 yards on 14 carries and scored four touchdowns. North Dickinson's Noah Berg ran for 264 yards on 28 carries and ran for two scores.

The win means Hurley (7-1) will likely get a home playoff game, although that's not guaranteed. The loss eliminates North Dickinson from playoff contention; that's the best 2-5 team many will see. This 14-point loss was the Nordics' worst of the season in the midst of a very tough schedule.

"Every game that we've lost has been just like this one," North Dickinson coach Mike Christian said.

Neither team had much to brag about defensively, but the Midgets did pick up pivotal stops. North Dickinson made it all the way to the Hurley 8 on the first drive of the second half and didn't score. Mitchell Maki intercepted a pass in Hurley territory when the Midgets were nursing a six-point lead with just 1:35 left in the game.

"We had a number of good stops, but we just couldn't shake them," Hurley coach Scott Erickson said. "We just couldn't get away from them and give ourselves a comfortable lead. They're an explosive team with Berg and the other backs. Their line is really, really solid as well.

"Our guys got it done in the end, but we can't keep getting in these shootout games."

The Midgets went into halftime with a 20-14 lead and the third quarter certainly went Hurley's way before the fourth quarter turned into a shootout.

The Nordics had the ball first in the second half and ate up 6 minutes and 24 seconds but couldn't punch it in.

They nearly overcame a false start penalty in the latter stages of the drive. On third down at the 8, Maki stuffed ND for an 8-yard loss and the Nordics threw an incomplete pass on fourth down. The Nordics went all the way from their own 20 to as far as the Hurley 8 with nothing to show for it.

"We had that false start and it's so hard in a game like that to come back from that," Christian said. "That was huge."

Hurley pounced on the ensuing possession. Czerneski capped the drive with a 40-yard touchdown run. The Midgets led 28-14 with 1:46 left in the third quarter.

"That was a big stop and then to get something right in behind that was big," Erickson said.

It looked like Hurley had the momentum after that, but the Nordics needed just six plays to get that touchdown back. Garrett O'Neil hit Jared Miller for a 41-yard TD pass on the fourth play of the fourth quarter, cutting Hurley's lead to 28-20.

The shootout was on.

Two plays into the next drive, Czerneski busted loose for a 65-yard touchdown. Hurley led 34-20.

Just 2:15 later, North Dickinson reached the end zone on a five-yard run by Berg. It was 34-28.

Hurley's Jacob Saari returned the kickoff 19 yards to the Hurley 49. On the fourth play of the drive, Ronnie Nickel went 27 yards to the ND 1 and he ran the final yard for the score. Hurley led 40-28 with 5:53 left.

It took a 10-play, 57-yard drive, but the Nordics made it a one-possession game with 2:24 left in the contest when O'Neil found Ron Ackerman for an 11-yard TD. It was 40-34 Hurley.

The Nordics recovered the onside kick. On the Hurley 41, Berg went to pass but had to scramble back. With Tandrell Foster closing, he threw a pass that was tipped by Saari and intercepted by Maki with 1:35 left.

"They booted to the right and I saw all the receivers going that way," Maki said. "Then I saw a guy come across the back and I saw the quarterback throw it up. Jake Saari made a good play, hit it up and it fell right into my arms."

"It seems like your best players got to come up with plays and those two guys (Saari and Maki) came up with a big one when we really needed it," Erickson said.

North Dickinson had timeouts left so the game wasn't over until Maki rushed 60 yards for a touchdown just two plays into the drive.

Hurley's 48-34 lead stuck. Finally.

"We had perfect blocking," Maki said. "As soon as I got past the line, there was no one to tackle. They were all blocked perfectly."

The Midgets rushed for 494 yards on 45 carries. Three backs went over 100 yards. Czerneski had 204 yards, Maki tallied 132 on 11 carries and Nickel had 110 on 13 carries.

"They hide the ball so well and they controlled the line of scrimmage most of the game. It's hard to win when you don't do that," Christian said.

Czerneski hasn't found easy running room up the gut as of late, but three of his touchdown runs Friday went at least 40 yards and two went at least 57 yards.

"I think it's because the other guys had so much success in the last two games, we found a little more back up the middle," Erickson said. "We did focus a lot this week on the trapping game."

Czerneski said, "The last couple games I had troubles reading where my path is, where the hole is. But this game, I was able to find the hole and the blocking was excellent."

Berg had 264 of North Dickinson's 328 rushing yards.

"He can do anything he wants to," Christian said.

Czerneski scored the game's first touchdown, on a 57-yard run. North Dickinson scored the next two for a 14-6 lead in the first quarter.

The Midgets scored two TDs in the second quarter, one by Czerneski and the other by Maki. They also stopped North Dickinson three times, once at the Hurley 30, one on a fumble recovery by Josh Quello inside Hurley territory and then at the end of the half. The Midgets led 20-14 at halftime before things got crazy.

Hurley goes to Iron Mountain Friday.

Hurley 6 14 8 20 - 48

ND 14 0 0 20 - 34

First Quarter

Hur - Devin Czerneski 57 run (kick failed), 10:05

ND - Hunter Mattson 5 pass from Garrett O'Neil (pass failed), 4:29

ND - Noah Berg 63 run (Berg run), 1:02

Second Quarter

Hur - Czerneski 1 run (Isaac DeCarlo run), 7:00

Hur - Mitchell Maki 5 run (kick failed), :37

Third Quarter

Hur - Czerneski 40 run (Ronnie Nickel run), 1:46

Fourth Quarter

ND - Jared Miller 41 pass from O'Neil (run failed), 11:51

Hur - Czerneski 65 run (kick failed), 10:52

ND - Berg 5 run (O'Neil run), 8:37

Hur - Nickel 1 run (run failed), 5:53

ND - Ron Ackerman 11 pass from O'Neil (pass failed), 2:24

Hur - Maki 60 run (Nickel pass from DeCarlo), 1:16

ND Hur

First downs 21 10

Rushes-yards 50-328 45-494

Comp-Att-Int 8-19-1 0-1-1

Passing 115 0

Total yards 443 494

Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0

Penalties-yards 4-25 3-30

Individual statistics

Rushing - ND, Noah Berg 28-264, Devin Wagner 11-49, Garrett O'Neil 5-10, Kory Williams 6-5. Hurley, Devin Czerneski 14-204, Mitchell Maki 11-132, Ronnie Nickel 13-110, Isaac DeCarlo 7-44, Kris Bluse 1-4.

Passing - ND, Garrett O'Neil 7-18-107-0, Noah Berg 1-2-0-8. Hurley, Isaac DeCarlo 0-1-0-1.

Receiving - ND, Ron Ackerman 2-30, Devin Wagner 2-9, Jared Miller 1-41, Noah Berg 1-9, Garrett O'Neil 1-8, Hunter Mattson 1-5.