Negaunee, MI – November 5, 2021 – The Negaunee Miners Football team hosted the Calumet Copper Kings for the District title, and the season came to an end with a 24-19 loss. Mark Evans and Gregg Nelson had the call live from Negaunee on Sunny 101.9.
Calumet received to start the ball game, and couldn’t get much going on the first drive. Negaunee got the ball next after the Copper Kings’ punt, and Nico Lukkarinen busted a run across midfield down to the Calumet 35-yard line. Easton Palomaki picked another first down inside of the Calumet 30, but the Miners were stuffed on a fourth down jet sweep play on the next set of chains for a turnover on downs. Calumet’s run game started to get going on the team’s second drive, led down the field by Paul Sturos and Dryden Nelson. Now across midfield, Alan Bjorn got involved in the ground game with a 30-yard run inside of the Negaunee 20-yard line. The first quarter went by fast, and neither team got on the scoreboard.
End of 1st: Negaunee Miners 0, Calumet Copper Kings 0
Set up with third down, Calumet was stopped short by the Miners’ defense. As rare as it is in high school football, Calumet settled for a field goal attempt. The 28-yarder from Tom Erkkila was good, and the Copper Kings took a 3-0 lead at the 11:16 mark of the second. The Miners looked to answer and the drive was off to a good start with a Gerald Johnson run towards midfield. Negaunee was faced with fourth down a few plays later, and Johnson found Lacar down the field for 30-yard pass inside of the Calumet 20-yard line. Three plays later on another fourth down try, Johnson was under pressure and threw it to Palomaki for a 14-yard score. Philip Nelson’s extra point was blocked, but the Miners led 6-3 with 5:05 remaining until halftime. On the next play from scrimmage, Dryden Nelson of Calumet used his speed and went the distance from 68 yards away to give Calumet back the lead. Erkkila’s point after sailed through, giving the Copper Kings a 10-6 advantage. No more points were scored in the final minutes of the half with Calumet holding a four-point lead.
Halftime: Calumet Copper Kings 10, Negaunee Miners 6
Negaunee started the second half with the ball, and the Miners were quickly into Calumet territory. Palomaki and Brady Roose were running the football for Negaunee, and Roose drew a face-mask penalty to move the ball to the Calumet 30-yard line. Negaunee was set up with fourth down once again and Johnson’s pass to Philip Nelson drew a pass interference penalty to move the chains. Roose marched into the end-zone from 11 yards out,
and the successful extra point put the Miners up 13-10 with 6:26 left in the third. Just like in the second quarter on the next play, Dryden Nelson broke a long run for a touchdown. Erkkila’s kick was good after the 80-yard sprint, giving Calumet the lead right back 17-13. The Miners tried to respond with what looked like a promising drive, but Lacar was tackled short on fourth down on a jet sweep, giving the ball back to the Copper Kings. Dryden Nelson continued to put the Calumet on his back, rushing the ball down to the Negaunee 25-yard line. Not too much longer it was Nelson running the ball from 23 yards away into the end-zone for his third of the game. Calumet now led 24-13 with the third quarter coming to an end.
End of 3rd: Calumet Copper Kings 24, Negaunee Miners 13
Negaunee needed two scores to take the lead back with time winding down. Palomaki had a run across midfield, with Roose and Lacar chipping in. The Miners were going down the field, and Johnson started using his legs. Johnson picked up a first down to set up first-and-goal, and scored from seven yards out on the next play. Lacar’s two-point conversion was no good, but Negaunee cut the deficit to 24-19 with under five minutes to go. Calumet got the ball back needing to run the clock out to win, and Dryden Nelson did just that churning his legs for a couple of first downs. The Miners battled until the final horn, but the season came to an end with a 24-19 loss to Calumet. Negaunee finishes the year at 8-3 and District runner-up.
Final Score: Calumet Copper Kings 24, Negaunee Miners 19