The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Midgets clinch 20th straight playoff appearance with win over Gremlins

 

October 14, 2017

Jason Juno/Daily Globe

Abbotsford, Clear Lake, Elmwood/Plum City, Frederic, Hurley, Loyal, Owen-Withee, Turtle Lake

HURLEY - Sure Hurley probably could have made the playoffs regardless of Friday night's result.

But from the opening play of the game, when the Midgets' Isaac DeCarlo ran down and knocked the ball loose from Houghton's running back just short of what looked like a sure touchdown, you got the feeling pretty quickly they weren't going to leave anything to chance.

The Midgets clinched a WIAA Division 7 playoff berth with a 22-6 West-PAC win over Houghton. It's their 20th straight trip to the postseason.

While it's a familiar feeling for Hurley, this one means a little more.

"This is real special," Hurley coach Scott Erickson said, "because everybody had said this was the year it ended. I'm so proud of those kids. They refused to even read it, hear it, listen to it, whatever. They just played - game, game, game, game - and competed well all year. And it's a really rewarding finish."

OK, it means a lot more.

"This means the world to us," DeCarlo said. "I've never been so focused in my life to win this game and I think all my teammates feel the same way. This is by far the biggest win I've ever had in my career because everybody doubted us and I knew deep down that nobody's going to stop us this year."

Erickson never mentioned to his team that they could get in with a loss. But that was only a possibility. A win guaranteed they were in the playoffs. And they wanted to get in with a win.

Hurley got the win by rushing for 430 yards and coming up with big defensive stops to improve to 5-3 overall and 4-3 in the West-PAC.

The Gremlins came in as a dangerous opponent, hungry to get a win after playing so well the last several weeks.

And they almost took the lead as soon as they got the ball.

Houghton's Jake Rajala got loose on the first play from scrimmage, running free for what sure appeared to be a 65-yard touchdown. But DeCarlo caught up to him and knocked the ball loose at the 2. The ball rolled through the end zone and out of bounds, giving Hurley the ball at its own 20.

"What was going through my mind was, he ain't scoring. My track speed kind of kicked in at the end," said DeCarlo, who advanced to the state track meet in the 100-meter dash last season. "I was like, 'If we want to win this game, we have to make a statement right off the bat.' I knew he thought he was going to score, so if I came around and hit the ball, it was probably going to affect it."

That play affected a lot, giving Hurley the momentum early.

"The kid bust out on his only bust out all night on the first play," Erickson said. "It's like we weren't quite ready. Isaac never gave up."

Hurley responded with an 80-yard scoring drive, capped fittingly by a 44-yard touchdown run by DeCarlo.

The Gremlins scored their only touchdown of the game, on a 20-yard run by quarterback George Butvilas with 1:22 left in the first half. Hurley led 8-6 at the half.

Hurley got the ball first in the second half but fumbled.

Houghton took over at its own 34 and drove inside the Hurley 5 on a 12-play drive. On fourth-and-1, the interior of Hurley's line stopped Houghton inches short of the first down on what could have been a go-ahead drive with 1:59 left in the third quarter.

"That was huge," DeCarlo said. "That was the deciding point right there."

The Midgets took over at their own 3. They went 97 yards in 14 plays and scored a touchdown on a one-yard run by Scott Subert, who led the Midgets with 156 yards on 23 carries.

Instead of trailing, the Midgets were up 14-6 with 7:29 left in the game.

"We had some great stops tonight defensively," Erickson said. "Getting better there on defense, certainly that has to keep going here going forward."

Hurley forced a Houghton punt on the ensuing possession as Arthur Johnson's sack on second down eventually made it fourth and 11 for the Gremlins. It took just two plays for Hurley to ice it as Dakota Haanen ran 56 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion, also Haanen's, made it 22-6 with 4:39 to go.

Haanen rushed for 121 yards on 16 carries.

"They did a great job moving the ball against us," Houghton coach Frank Bonacorsi said.

Rajala led Houghton with 143 yards on 23 carries. The Gremlins certainly made Hurley earn this one.

"Good Houghton team," Erickson said. "That's the best 1-7 team you're probably ever going to see."

While the Gremlins have played well lately, Bonacorsi said it's still a learning process for his team.

"Just learn to win and learn how to finish these games," he said.

The Midgets will find out their fate this morning when Erickson attends a seeding meeting. The Level 1 game will be next Friday or Saturday. He's not expecting a home game.

"6-3, maybe, might have been, but 5-3, I doubt it," Erickson said. Washburn canceled on Hurley in Week 1. "But who cares? We'll take on anybody."

Houghton 0 6 0 0 - 6

Hurley 8 0 0 14 - 22

First Quarter

Hur - Isaac DeCarlo 44 run (Kodey Henning run), 6:48

Second Quarter

Hou - George Butvilas 20 run (run failed), 1:22

Third Quarter

No scoring

Fourth Quarter

Hur - Scott Subert 1 run (run failed), 7:29

Hur - Dakota Haanen 56 run (Haanen run), 4:39

Hou Hur

First downs 11 13

Rushes-yards 37-236 56-430

Comp-Att-Int 3-9-0 1-1-0

Passing 48 0

Total yards 284 430

Fumbles-lost 3-1 1-1

Penalties-yards 6-45 8-58

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING - Houghton, Jake Rajala 23-143, George Butvilas 11-81, Ty Halonen 3-12. Hurley, Scott Subert 23-156, Dakota Haanen 16-121, Kodey Henning 10-77, Isaac DeCarlo 7-76.

PASSING - Houghton, George Butvilas 3-9-48-0. Hurley, Isaac DeCarlo 1-1-0-0.

RECEIVING - Houghton, Ty Halonen 2-38, Merlin Steffensen 1-10. Hurley, Dakota Haanen 1-0.

 
 

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