Gladstone, MI – October 30, 2020 – After losing to Gladstone on the road in week two, the Negaunee Miners Football team won the rematch in the first round of the MHSAA Division 6 Playoffs by a score of 28-14. A fourth down completion from Gerald Johnson to Philip Nelson for the touchdown sealed the deal, and the Miners are moving on to the District Semifinals next week against Westwood. Mark Evans and Gregg Nelson had the call from Gladstone on Sunny 101.9.
Negaunee received the ball first to start the game, and didn’t waste any time behind the legs of Nash Hillier. The Miners were relying on outside runs, and Hillier’s big gains put Negaunee inside of the Gladstone 25-yard line. That was good as it would get on the opening drive, as the Miners hurt themselves with multiple penalties and a sack of quarterback Gerald Johnson. After a good Negaunee punt, the Braves took over at their own six-yard line, but couldn’t muster any offense. The Miners couldn’t get much going on its next drive, but the Braves began to move the football on their next possession. Quarterback Cam Kelly was starting to heat up, completing a pass to John Hansen into Negaunee territory. After 12 minutes of play, Negaunee and Gladstone were tied 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.
End of 1st: Negaunee Miners 0, Gladstone Braves 0
Gladstone’s drive didn’t last much longer when Kelly’s pass was overthrown to Negaunee’s Brenten Belanger for the interception. Belanger returned the ball into Gladstone territory, and the Miners were set up with good field position. Negaunee capitalized by driving down the field with Hiller and Lukas Nelson. Forced with a fourth down and one yard, Johnson found tight end Eli Luokkala for the fourth down completion to the Gladstone six-yard line. On the next play, Hillier punched it in for the touchdown, and Philip Nelson’s made extra point gave the Miners a 7-0 lead. The Braves had to punt for the second time on the night, but Negaunee handed the ball right back after the Gladstone defense recovered a Johnson fumble. Starting with good field position at midfield, the Braves got on the scoreboard with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to Cam Ballard. The two-point conversion was no good after Kelly fumbled, and Negaunee led 7-6 with 4:31 left in the first half. The Miners had its second turnover in as many possessions as Johnson’s pass was intercepted by Gladstone’s Zac Brazeau. Neither team gained much yardage in the final four minutes of the second quarter, and the Miners held a 7-6 halftime lead.
Halftime: Negaunee Miners 7, Gladstone Braves 6
Gladstone couldn’t score on its first second half possession, and the Miners took advantage with a Lukas Nelson touchdown from five yards out. Philip Nelson’s extra point was good, and the Miners led 14-6 with 6:52 left in the third. Negaunee’s defense was stepping up against the Braves’ potent offense, Kelly was held in check in the third quarter. The Miners gave up only 10 yards in the period, and had a drive into Gladstone territory with an eight-point lead as the quarter came to an end.
End of 3rd: Negaunee Miners 14, Gladstone Braves 6
Negaunee continued to drive inside of the Braves’ 30-yard line as the fourth quarter began. Once again, penalties sent the Miners going backwards, but a huge run by Hillier on third down and long put Negaunee inside of the 10-yard line. On the next play, Lukas Nelson scored his second touchdown from nine yards out with 7:59 remaining. Philip Nelson connected his third extra point of the game, and extended the lead to 21-6. The Miners had all of the momentum, but Gladstone turned the game around in a hurry with a 33-yard completion to Hansen. On the next play, Ryan Polley scampered into the endzone from 31 yards out for the touchdown. Polley scored the two-point try as well, and the Braves cut the deficit to 21-14 with 7:15 left after a two-play drive. On Negaunee’s next possession the momentum completely went to Gladstone after the pitch exchange between Johnson and Hillier was fumbled, and the Braves recovered at the Miners’ 35-yard line. The Braves had a chance to take the lead with a touchdown and two-point conversion, but the Negaunee defense stepped big by forcing a turnover on downs with under five minutes left. The Miners gained back control of the game, and nearly broke it open with a 50-yard run from Lukas Nelson to the Braves’ 18-yard line. On a huge fourth down play at the Gladstone 15-yard line, Johnson completed a pass to Philip Nelson for the touchdown to extend the lead. Nelson kicked the extra point after his catch, and the Miners led 28-14 with 2:25 left. On the kick return, Polley returned it for Gladstone and had a big return across midfield. After the Braves had a holding penalty and a sack, Gladstone had to convert a fourth-and-40 to stay alive. Needing a miracle, Gladstone couldn’t convert and the game was over. The Negaunee Miners traveled to Gladstone and picked up a 28-14 win to advance in the MHSAA Division 6 Playoffs.
Final Score: Negaunee Miners 28, Gladstone Braves 14
NEXT GAME: The Negaunee Miners Football team travels a few miles west to battle the Westwood Patriots in playoff action! Game time will be announced later this week, and the Elder Agency Pregame Show will begin 30 minutes before kickoff. Mark Evans and Gregg Nelson will have the call on Sunny 101.9. Go Miners!