Negaunee couldn’t contain Calumet’s Brent Loukus all game, and it finally came back to bite the Miners in the final few seconds in Negaunee on Thursday night.
The star junior quarterback scored the game-winning touchdown with 15 seconds remaining in the Copper Kings’ 28-21 nonconference road victory.
It was Loukus’ third TD of the night as he also tacked on an interception while playing defense in a rematch of their MHSAA Division 6 playoff game at the same location last November.
Loukus finished with 159 yards on the ground and was 7 of 12 for 86 yards through the air as the Negaunee defense was unable to stop him in this back-and-forth contest.
Miners head coach Paul Jacobson said the game came down to Calumet (2-0) making good plays in the end.
“They came down and made plays and we didn’t,” Jacobson said. “It was a great game, another battle for the ages.
“Calumet is a great team, they’re well-coached and down the stretch they made the plays that they needed to.
“We made some mistakes and that’s going to happen when you have a young team like this. I’m proud of my guys for the way they battled tonight for four quarters, and I think for the most part we made some good improvements, and we just have to continue to get better.”
Calumet head coach John Croze praised Loukus.
“Brent (Loukus) is a fabulous athlete,” Croze said. “He’s got an upside on both sides of the ball for us, and we expect that out of him. It was good to see him get the job done for us.”
Croze added that he was proud of the effort put forth by his entire team.
“There were a couple of times we could have hung our heads and walked away with a loss but the kids found a way and were determined to find a way to win,” he said.
On the third play of the game, Negaunee (0-2) forced a fumble that was recovered by Jason Waterman at the Calumet 35-yard line. NHS capitalized six plays later, scoring on a 5-yard run by Jake Hill and getting the extra point by Erik Salminen to take a 7-0 lead.
The Copper Kings responded with a nine-play drive ending with a 6-yard TD run by Trevor Hendrickson. But the 2-point conversion failed as Negaunee clung to a 7-6 advantage after one quarter.
After a three-and-out by the Miners, Calumet respond with Loukus’ first scoring run of the night, a 10-yarder less than two minutes into the second period. The 2-point attempt was again denied, but the Copper Kings led 12-7 at halftime.
Drew DuShane set Negaunee up to start the third quarter with a big kick return that he brought back to the Calumet 32.
DuShane also came up big on the ensuing drive, catching a pass from Waterman on fourth-and-4 down to the 1-yard line, where Waterman snuck it into the end zone as Negaunee retook a 14-12 lead following Salminen’s PAT boot.
The Miners’ defense stiffened, forcing the ball to turn over on downs before Eric Etelamaki scored from the 1 to give Negaunee a 21-12 lead just past the halfway point of the third.
With their backs against the wall, the Kings started playing catch over the remainder of the quarter as Loukus scored from 19 yards out with 30 seconds remaining in the period. Loukus’ 2-point run pulled his team with one point, 21-20.
Saddled with costly penalties, most of the fourth turned into a standoff. That included Negaunee being forced to punt with 1:14 remaining.
Calumet then drove downfield and Loukus fired a 28-yard pass to Travis Ojala to set up shop on the Negaunee 6. Loukus ran it in from there as the clock was winding down.
Calumet tallied 304 yards of total offense to Negaunee’s 177. Waterman completed 6 of 16 passes for 63 yards, while Hill led the Miners on the ground with 51 yards on five carries.
Each team is back in action next Friday night. Negaunee travels to Gladstone while the Copper Kings host Hurley..
Calumet 28, Negaunee 21
Score by quarters:
Calumet 6 6 8 8 — 28
Negaunee 7 0 14 0 — 21
NEG — Jake Hill 5 run (Erik Salminen kick) 8:30
CAL — Trevor Hendrickson 6 run (run failed) 3:20
CAL — Brent Loukus 10 run (run failed) 10:20
NEG — Jason Waterman 1 run (Salminen kick) 10:00
NEG — Erik Etelamaki 1 run (Salminen kick) 5:21
CAL — Loukus 19 run (Loukus run) 0:30
CAL — Loukus 6 run (Matt Ojala pass from Loukus) 0:15
First downs — Calumet 19, Negaunee 12
Rushes-yards — Calumet 38-218, Negaunee 37-114
Comp-Att-Int-Yards — Calumet 7-13-1-86 (Loukus 7-12-1-86, Travis Ojala 0-1-0-0); Negaunee, Waterman 6-16-2-63