NEGAUNEE - As the first half drew to a close, it appeared as though the Negaunee Miners were on their way to a rout of their Mid-Peninsula Conference rivals, the Manistique Emeralds. Negaunee held a 24-8 lead, as well as the momentum. However, the Emeralds battled back in the second half to make it a game of inches, and the Miners escaped with the 36-30 victory.
"Anytime you can come out on top, it's a bonus," said Miners coach Paul Jacobson. "I thought Manistique played a fantastic ball game tonight. We sustained, and we had a lot of adversity.
"Manistique did some good things on offense, and we held in there. We fought to the end and came out with a victory."
Negaunee’s Kevin O’Keefe (28) finds open grass as Manistique’s Chris Shiner goes for the tackle during the second quarter Friday evening in Negaunee. The Miners won, 36-30. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Justin Marietti)
The Emeralds chipped away at the deficit with only 15 seconds remaining in the second quarter when quarterback Tyler Kangas connected with Cole Potvin for a 9-yard touchdown pass, and then Tony Floyd caught the two-point conversion to make it a 24-16 contest.
Negaunee continued the scoring onslaught with the first play of the second half as quarterback Ryan Syrjala took the ball 66 yards on the very first play from scrimmage to boost the Miners to a 30-16 lead.
Facing fourth down on the following drive, Kangas faked the punt and hit Potvin downfield to give the Emeralds a fresh set of downs.
Negaunee 36, Manistique 30
Score by quarters:
Manistique 8 8 14 0 - 30
Negaunee 16 8 6 6 - 36
Negaunee - LaJoie, 66 run (Windahl run)
Manistique - Floyd, 72 run (Kangas run)
Negaunee - LaJoie, 80 kickoff return (Radloff pass from Syrjala)
Negaunee - Radloff, 30 pass from Syrjala (LaJoie run)
Manistique - Potvin, 9 pass from Kangas, (Floyd pass from Kangas)
Negaunee - Syrjala, 66 run (run failed)
Manistique - Brock, 5 run (Floyd run)
Manistique - Brock, 5 run (pass failed)
Negaunee - Syrjala, 5 run (pass failed)
Floyd brought his team to the 5-yard line on back-to-back runs and Mike Brock ran in for score, followed by a Floyd 2-point conversion to make it 30-24.
The Emeralds then tied the game at 30-30 via a 15-yard pass and 21-yard run by Potvin.
The Miners retook the lead, however, via a 5-yard TD run by Syrjala in a drive that also included a 28-yard scamper.
The Emeralds attempted to tie or take the lead with a drive that began on their own 30-yard line, marching all the way down to Negaunee's 7-yard line. The rally ended with the Miners stuffing a Emeralds quarterback keeper for a turnover on downs.
"We battled back," said Emeralds coach Todd Kangas. "We gave up some big plays at the beginning, but we kept ourselves in it offensively and we were able to move the ball and tie it up. I thought maybe we'd get this last drive here at the end and be able to pull ahead, but we came up just a few inches short on that."
Tyler LaJoie scored twice for Negaunee in the first quarter, posting a 66-yard touchdown run and an 80-yard kickoff return. Brock also scored two rushing touchdowns for Manistique.