NEGAUNEE - Perfection would've been a good start for Gwinn.
The Modeltowners might've needed even more than that to challenge a Negaunee team hitting on all cylinders Friday night as the Miners won their Homecoming game, 49-6.
NHS continues on a mission to win the Mid-Peninsula Conference as it improved to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the league. The Miners and Ishpeming, who play in two weeks, are the only teams with winning records in the M-PC.
Gwinn’s Cody Norman runs down field as Negaunee’s Kevin O’Keefe makes a tackle during the second quarter in Negaunee on Friday. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
"I'm just happy to play the way we did in front of our home crowd on Homecoming night," Negaunee coach Paul Jacobson said. "This was a true team effort from top to bottom. Every individual played well.
"Gwinn has some athletes, so we knew we'd get their best game."
Off the top of his head, Jacobson listed Gwinn junior running backs Owen DeVooght and Luke Sinnaeve, along with junior quarterback Justin Nyquist, as examples of the Modeltowners' quality.
"I was happy defensively with the kinds of hits we delivered in the first quarter," Gwinn coach Darren Sinnaeve said. "We dropped their quarterback (Tanner Uren) a couple of times and we moved the ball at times.
"But things just snowballed on us in the second quarter. We're still only playing well in little spurts. Big mistakes at big times have hurt us over and over again.
"When we have to plug people into positions they're not familiar with, it tends to hurt our continuity," he added.
Though every play before halftime was snapped in Gwinn territory, the Modeltowners (1-4, 0-3) fought toe-to-toe with Negaunee throughout the first quarter.
After receiving the opening kickoff, Gwinn moved the ball to its 49-yard line before the Miners' Adam Francis recovered a fumble at the end of a sweep play.
Francis became known for his offensive prowess after that, scoring his team's first four TDs. But that wasn't until after Gwinn forced Negaunee to give up the ball on downs after four plays on its first possession.
Four more plays after that, Gwinn tried a punt, setting up the night's first turning point. The snap to punter DeVooght sailed over his head and NHS senior Dustin Goupille quickly tackled him for a 22-yard loss.
Negaunee needed five plays to march 26 yards, capped by Francis' first TD run up the gut from about the half-yard line.
In a span of just over 14 1/2 minutes, the Miners scored five TDs. The final one came after Negaunee junior safety Tyler LaJoie intercepted Nyquist near midfield and brought the ball back to the Gwinn 13 with 17 seconds left before halftime.
On the next play, NHS senior Uren connected with senior Andrew Katona in the far corner of the end zone. With a rare attempted PAT kick by Francis, the Miners led 37-0 at halftime.
That activated a running clock throughout the second half, though Gwinn registered its only TD with six seconds left in the third quarter on a Nyquist keeper around the right end from 18 yards out.
Francis gained 96 yards on 17 carries as the Negaunee outgained Gwinn, 269-118.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is email@example.com.