ISHPEMING - It was only one point in a 45-14 Ishpeming High School football win over visiting Manistique on Friday night.
But Eric Dompierre's extra point kick late in the fourth quarter brought the house down.
A teenager with Down syndrome who gained a Michigan High School Athletic Association age waiver to play this season, Dompierre missed his first four tries against the Emeralds, one attempt hitting the crossbar.
Ishpeming High School’s Bobby Zhulkie (21) intercepts the ball meant for Manistique’s Zack Lambert, left, during the first quarter Friday at the Ishpeming Playgrounds. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Ishpeming senior Eric Dompierre attempts an extra point against the Emeralds in the first quarter. He was unsuccessful on the kick, but hit an extra point later in the second half. (Journal photos by Adelle Whitefoot)
"I still thought I was going to get one," Dompierre said.
He succeeded on his last try with 4:59 left in the game. To loud cheers of the fans, he was carried off the field in triumph on the shoulders of some of his teammates.
"That felt good," he said. "They were excited for me to kick one."
The Emeralds of Todd Kangas (0-2 overall, 0-2 Mid-Peninsula Conference) didn't rush Dompierre on any attempt.
"That was class on their part," IHS head coach Jeff Olson said. "Eric earned it, though.
"It's what Eric lives for (being a contributing member of the team). It took him a while to kick it, but it's great for him and everyone in the community."
Dompierre wasn't the only story, however.
The Hematites (2-0, 2-0) got 130 yards rushing in 19 carries and two touchdowns from back Eric Kostreva; 135 yards passing from quarterback Alex Briones and two scores; and 459 yards of total offense.
"We have a lot of weapons," Briones said. "We opened it up a little and passed more than usual. We're a motivated group of players."
Olson added the Hematites' offensive game plan was to spread the ball around.
"We need to be more versatile," he said. "We tried to throw a little more."
An interception by Bobby Zhulkie and a 23-yard pass from Briones to RJ Poirier set up a Briones touchdown pass of nine yards to Seppi Bertucci in the second quarter for a 14-0 Ishpeming lead.
In addition, a 30-yard punt return by Tyrus Millimaki set the stage for a 24-yard scoring run by Adam Prisk in the second, giving IHS a 20-7 advantage.
"We have kids who can do a lot of things," Olson said.
The Emeralds got a 33-yard TD run from Zavier Gonzalez in the first quarter and a 12-yard scamper from Kenner Broullire in the fourth for a score.
"We can score. Our two touchdowns were no flukes," Manistique head coach todd Kangas said. "But it's two weeks now we've given up more than 40 points (including a 42-20 loss to Negaunee).
"We have to make more plays (defensively).
"Ishpeming is pretty diverse and fundamentally sound," he added. "We're just no there yet."
Olson said stopping Broullire, who rushed for 53 yards on 18 carries, was a Hematite priority.
"Our big focus was to concentrate on Broullire and not let him get outside," said the IHS coach, whose defense limited the Emeralds to 81 yards rushing and 41 passing.
Adam Prisk (24 run), Zhulkie (3-yard pass) and Tyler Windahl (5-yard run) added scores for Ishpeming, which led 26-7 at the half and 38-7 entering the fourth quarter.
"The kids played well," Olson said. "We were able to run and throw, and the line blocked real well."
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.