Calumet, MI – November 1, 2019 – The Negaunee Miners Football team was defeated 42-14 in the District semi-finals of the MHSAA Division 6 Football Playoffs by the Calumet Copper Kings. Negaunee ends the season with a 6-4 record, and a postseason berth for the first time in two years. Mark Evans and Gregg Nelson had the call from Calumet for the postseason action.
The Miners completely flipped the script in the beginning of the game from last week, as they recovered Erik Salminen’s kick after it bounced off of a Calumet player. Negaunee had momentum to start, but the Calumet defense made things tough. After starting the drive at the Copper King 48-yard line, the Miners stalled offensively after Jason Waterman’s fourth down pass was incomplete for the turnover on downs. Calumet took over on offense, and didn’t waste any time moving the ball down the field. Quarterback Scott Loukus and running back Nick Djerf began doing damage in the run game, running the ball into the Negaunee red-zone within a few plays. After a Djerf run set Calumet up with second down at the 10-yard line, Loukus kept it on the fake hand-off for a touchdown. The Copper Kings capped off the six-play drive by hitting pay-dirt, but couldn’t capitalize on the two-point conversion attempt. Calumet led 6-0 with six minutes remaining in the opening quarter. The Miners incorporated Nash Hillier and Lukas Nelson into the running game, trying to get them involved. Negaunee couldn’t get the run game going much, but Waterman scrambled into Calumet territory for a good gain. However once again just inside of the 50-yard line, the Miners couldn’t move the chains. Salminen’s punt went into the end-zone for a touchback. The Negaunee defense responded after the disappointing opening drive, and forced the Copper Kings to punt the ball right back after three plays. The Miners started at their own 49-yard line on the drive, a Waterman scamper put them at the Calumet 35-yard line. However, only a couple plays later was Waterman’s deep pass intercepted by Djerf and returned to the 24-yard line. That would be the end of the first quarter, and Calumet’s lead was 6-0.
End of 1st: Calumet Copper Kings 6, Negaunee Miners 0
On the first play of the second quarter, Dryden Nelson took the hand-off 72 yards for a big play touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good, Calumet now led by a double digit, 12-0 score. Negaunee got the ball back, but the Calumet defense continued to be the story of the game. The Miners couldn’t convert on third down and long, and had to punt it away. The Copper Kings continued to run the ball well, pushing the ball into the red-zone after starting with good field position. The drive ended like the first one did when Loukus found the end-zone from 10 yards out, and the score was extended to 20-0 after a successful two-point conversion. The Miners couldn’t find a rhythm, and everything that could go wrong was going wrong. After picking up one first down and being backed up with third down and 16 yards to go, Waterman fumbled the football while running with it. Calumet recovered at the Negaunee 26-yard line with two minutes left in the half. The Miners defense appeared to have a stop on a fourth down play, but the Copper Kings came through with a 29-yard touchdown pass. The Loukus connection provided the score as Scott threw it to his brother Dean, and the added two-point conversion made it 28-0. That would be how the first half would end, Negaunee was in need of a huge comeback to save its season.
Halftime: Calumet Copper Kings 28, Negaunee Miners 0
The Miners received to start the second half, and the opening drive began at their own 37-yard line. Waterman was once again the bell-cow on the drive, but he didn’t have much breathing room against the tough defense of Calumet. With a long third down and 12 yards to go, Negaunee couldn’t convert and had to punt. However, the Miners defense forced a punt on Calumet’s first second half drive. Negaunee got the ball back with good field position, they needed to score points and fast. The story remained the same on the next possession for the Miners, and a punt after three plays gave Calumet the ball right back. The Copper Kings began to control the line of scrimmage, and moved the ball at will between the tackles. Djerf and fullback Will Twardzik handled the bulk of the carries for Calumet. After getting the ball near the goal-line, it was Twardzik who punched it in with the six-yard run. After the fumbled two-point conversion was no good, the score was 34-0 Calumet with one minute left in the third quarter. The Miners responded quickly with a nice drive of their own. Negaunee for the first time in the ball game, had a nice drive down the field. Wide receiver Alex Munson was the story of the drive, as he drew a pass interference penalty and had a couple of catches. His biggest catch was a 25-yard reception for the touchdown, and Salminen’s extra point cut Calumet’s lead to 34-7. That would be the score at the end of the third quarter, a lot of work was needed for Negaunee to come back in this one.
End of 3rd: Calumet Copper Kings 34, Negaunee Miners 7
Things weren’t getting any better for the Miners, as just 45 seconds into the fourth quarter, Nelson took it to the end-zone for his second of the game. The two-point conversion was good, and the Copper Kings’ lead jumped out to 42-7. Negaunee responded once again, as Salminen caught a 73-yard catch for the touchdown. His extra point made the score 42-14 with 8:47 left in the game. This game was very similar to last week’s loss against Westwood, the Negaunee offense came alive when it was too late. The clock was ran down with back-ups in the game, and that would bring the end of the contest. Calumet defeated Negaunee 42-14, and the Miners end the season with a record of 6-4.
Final Score: Calumet Copper Kings 42, Negaunee Miners 14