L'ANSE - L'Anse's 34-0 win over a rebuilding Houghton squad in last week's season opener was impressive, but the Purple Hornets really sent a message Thursday night by dominating defending WestPAC champion West Iron County 40-20 at Meadowbrook Field.
"Any time you beat a perennial powerhouse like that, that's huge," L'Anse coach Mark Leaf said. "I'm very proud of the kids who came out and executed very well against a very quality team. It was a great win for our program."
The teams battled through a scoreless first quarter, but eventually the Hornets' powerful, deep rushing attack overpowered the Wykons.
L'Anse tallied 284 rushing yards in the game and four different players tacked on a rushing touchdown.
"L'Anse came out with the football, hit us in the teeth and took it to us," WIC coach Mike Berutti said. "The better team won tonight."
It wasn't just the running game that paved the way to victory either.
The Purple Hornet defense made the game's first big play when Brandon Kemppainen picked off WIC quarterback Andrew Peterson on the first play of the second quarter. Five plays later and on L'Anse's only
completed pass of the game, Jimmy Veker caught a 6-yard pass from Jacob Ostermeyer, leading to an 8-0 lead with 9:16 left in the second quarter.
L'Anse forced a fumble on WIC's next drive, and four plays after that Veker broke loose for a 24-yard rushing touchdown to extend the lead.
After a Wykon three-and-out, L'Anse capitalized again as Cody Goldsworthy capped off a 50-yard drive comprised of all rushing plays with a 6-yard touchdown up the gut, making it 24-0 just 41.6 seconds before halftime.
"We started going a little more outside than up the middle, then when they adjusted to the outside, we went back up the middle again," Leaf said. "We counteracted what they were doing and it seemed to work."
But, out of nowhere, the Wykon offense clicked into gear.
Rushes of 13 and 18 yards and a 27-yard pass play gave WIC a first-and-goal from the 7 with 12.3 seconds left. Two incompletions later and a controversial clock stoppage with 0.3 seconds left allowed Peterson to connect with Brandon Clifford for a touchdown as time expired.