Pushed hard all night by a gritty Houghton High football team, the Calumet Copper Kings rose to the occasion Friday.
Calumet’s 22-6 victory was accomplished with a 22-point fourth quarter at a wet and foggy Aggasiz Field.
“We challenged the kids to come off the ball like they’re capable of, which we weren’t doing in the first half,” CHS coach John Croze said. “We came off the ball, established the line of scrimmage, scored 22 points and won the game.”
The shorthanded (just 14 players suited up) Gremlins dominated play in the first hall and actually held a 6-0 lead.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Gremlins coach Frank Bornacorsi said afterward. “Those 14 kids played their butts off. They were ready for it all week, and they played hard all the way against a very good team tonight.”
For the longest time, it appeared a 22-yard touchdown run by sophomore fullback Ty Halonen in the second quarter might hold up for the visitors. Halonen bounced off a group of would-be tackles and went the distance on the play.
The bend-but-don’t-break defense of the Orange and Black kept making plays, halting Calumet drives at the Houghton 20 and 29 in the opening half.
But the battle-tested Copper Kings went to work late in the third stanza, driving 62 yards in 11 plays.
Junior tailback Travis Ojala covered the final 4 yards for the score, but the 2-point PAT failed for a 6-6 reading with 10:06 left to play.
The northend crew, which is now 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the West-PAC, took the lead for good just four minutes later when tailback Sam Erkkila scooted 26 yards on a counter play for a score, and quarterback Brent Loukus passed to tight end Matt Ojala for the 2-pointer to make it 14-6.
Houghton gambled on a fourht-and-2 situation at midfield to give CHS a short field — a move Boncorsi would rue later on.
“I wish I had made some better decisions in the second half to give the kids a chance to win,” he said. “That was one of them.”
HHS junior quarterback George Butvilas, who did a fine job of mixing his plays throughout, saw a pass late in the game intercepted at midfield.
That set up at 26-yard scoring scamper by Trevor Hendrickson, whose running in the second half was a big key to the win.
“He (Hendrickson) is starting to get the feel of the position,” Croze commented. “He’s a hard-nosed, gritty runner.”
The Gremlins 0-4 on the season and 0-2 in the league, host tough West Iron County Friday.
Halonen and Jake Rajala were outstanding on defense for the losers. Cooper Twardzik and Travis Ojala stood out for Calumet.
Calumet will host Hancock in another big league matchup on Friday.
Houghton 0 6 0 0 – 6
Calumet 0 0 0 22 – 22
HO – Ty Halonen 22 run (pass failed)
CA – Travis Ojala 4 run (run failed)
CA – Sam Erkkila 26 run (Matt Ojala pass from Brent Loukus)
CA – Trevor Hendrickson 26 run (Travis Ojala pass from Loukus)