Houghton, MI – October 16, 2020 – The Negaunee Miners Football team had no trouble last week in a 48-0 drubbing of Gogebic, but the team had its hands full when it traveled to Houghton to take on the Gremlins. In a wild game where both teams had a hard time capitalizing on the other’s mistakes, Negaunee fell to Houghton in a 15-13 overtime game despite the Gremlins only mustering seven yards of total offense in the first half. The loss drops the Miners to 3-2 before the regular season finale scheduled for next week. Mark Evans and Gregg Nelson had the call live from Houghton on Sunny 101.9.
In a quick first quarter, the Miners controlled the ball for nearly the entire period. Negaunee received the ball first and marched across midfield behind its backfield of Lukas Nelson and Nash Hillier. In a key play early in the downs, quarterback Gerald Johnson’s pass intended to tight end Eli Luokkala was incomplete, and the Miners were faced with fourth down and 10 at the Gremlins’ 30-yard line. On the fourth down play, Johnson was hit as he threw, and the football fell out of bounds incomplete for a turnover on downs. Houghton took over, and only possessed the ball for four plays in the opening quarter. The punt on fourth down was blocked by Luokkala for Negaunee, and the Miners had good field position for its second drive at the 35-yard line. Negaunee came into this game looking to run the ball, and they were doing it efficiently and were inside of the Houghton 15-yard line. On the next play, Johnson scrambled in the endzone from 11-yards out, but the play was called back due to an illegal shift penalty. As the first quarter came down to an end, Hillier rushed for the first down and was tackled just short of the goal-line. The quarter came to an end, and the score was knotted up at 0-0 with the Miners knocking on the door.
End of 1st: Negaunee Miners 0, Houghton Gremlins 0
Lukas Nelson was tackled short on first-and-goal, but punched it in on the second try for the one-yard touchdown. Philip Nelson made the extra point, and Negaunee took a 7-0 lead. Houghton still couldn’t get any offense going, and was forced to punt back to the Miners. Negaunee drove the ball back into Houghton territory, but a crucial drop by Luokkala forced the Miners to punt the ball and pin the Gremlins deep. Camden Markham fumbled the punt but recovered it, and Houghton took over possession but not without a scare. Once again, the Gremlins couldn’t pick up a first down, and it was its third straight three-and-out. Negaunee had a nice punt return, but Houghton’s Tedd Halonen made a potentially touchdown saving tackle. The Miners had dominated time of possession thus far in the game, and they continued to do so holding the ball until nearly the end of the second quarter. With the drive starting in Houghton territory, the Miners wasted time off of the clock and were picking up first downs along the way. Negaunee found themselves with third down and eight yards to go at the Houghton 10-yard line with under two minutes left in the half. Hillier was tackled short of the first down, but Houghton committed a facemask penalty, and it set up Negaunee with another third down try at the seven-yard line. Hillier was short again on third down, and with no facemask penalty this time around, set up fourth down. With under 30 seconds left in the half, Johnson’s fourth down pass to the endzone was incomplete after the deflection from Houghton’s Reed Heathman for a turnover on downs. The Gremlins picked up a big stop, and ran one play before the half ended. Despite only giving up seven yards of total offense, Negaunee only led Houghton by one score.
Halftime: Negaunee Miners 7, Houghton Gremlins 0
Houghton started the second half with the football, and moved the chains for the first time of the game with a Markham completed pass. After giving the ball to Xander Zapolnik on a few occasion, the Gremlins connected on a big pass from Markham to Nathan Erva. Houghton suddenly captured momentum and after Erva’s run, was down to the Negaunee 15-yard line. After a few plays of not much on the ground, the Gremlins were set up with a fourth down and five at the 10-yard line. However, after a false start penalty, it became a fourth-and-10 for the Gremlins back at the 15-yard line. On that fourth down play, Markham’s pass was complete to Blake Willey down to the Miners’ one-yard line. On the next play, Markham found the endzone for the touchdown with the quarterback sneak, and the extra point tied the game up at 7-7. It was now the Miners that couldn’t get anything going offensively, and they were forced to punt after three plays. Houghton started its second third quarter drive with good field position, and made a big play on third down with a deep pass completed to Willey. The Gremlins set up shop inside of the Negaunee 10-yard line with first down, but couldn’t score on three straight plays. After a penalty, Houghton attempted a 26-yard field goal, but William Flaherty’s kick was wide right and no good. The Miners regained momentum after a completed pass from Johnson to Philip Nelson down to the Houghton 30-yard line with under three minutes left in the quarter. After a couple of run plays and a first down picked up, Negaunee had the football looking to take the lead as the third quarter winded down.
End of 3rd: Negaunee Miners 7, Houghton Gremlins 7
Being forced to convert another fourth down play, Johnson’s pass to Matt Skewis was dropped for a turnover on downs. Houghton reverted back to the first half on its next drive, and had to punt the ball back to the Miners after three plays. Negaunee took over once more with favorable field position inside Gremlin territory. The Miners drove the ball towards the endzone, but after being faced with another fourth down, Johnson fumbled the snap and had to dive on it, forcing another turnover on downs. After another missed opportunity by Negaunee, the Gremlins looked to take advantage. Houghton drove the ball down the field efficiently with under five minutes left in the game, getting contributions from Erva, Heathman and Willey. Penalties pushed the Gremlins back, but a big completion to Heathman picked up the first down. Houghton got close to a score, but had to convert a fourth-and-goal play at the two-yard line. The Gremlins sent out Flaherty to kick a 19-yard field goal to take the lead, but it was no good. Negaunee took back over, but the drive didn’t last long as Hillier fumbled the errant option pitch, and Houghton recovered at the 26-yard line. Erva and Zapolnik ran the ball for the Gremlins, however the drive came to an end when Markham’s pass was intercepted at the three-yard line by Philip Nelson. Both teams traded interceptions trying to score on a miracle play in the final minute, and the game went to overtime tied at 7-7.
End of 4th: Negaunee Miners 7, Houghton Gremlins 7
Houghton started overtime with the ball, and on the first play, Erva scored from 10-yards out for the touchdown. Erva took the handoff on the two-point conversion try and punched it in to give Houghton the 15-7 lead. Negaunee had to score a touchdown and two-point conversion to extend the game to double overtime, and Nelson scored the touchdown from three yards out on the second play. Still trailing 15-13, the Miners needed the two-point conversion, but Johnson’s pass was incomplete and the game was over. In a thrilling game that saw many missed opportunities and momentum swings from both teams, Negaunee fell to Houghton in overtime to drop to 3-2 on the season.
Final Score: Houghton Gremlins 15, Negaunee Miners 13
NEXT GAME: The Negaunee Miners Football team is tentatively scheduled on Thursday, Oct. 22 to host the Westwood Patriots in the final game of the regular season! Mark Evans and Gregg Nelson will have the call on Sunny 101.9, beginning with the Elder Agency Pregame Show at 6:30 p.m., and the game to follow at 7 p.m. Go Miners!