ISHPEMING - Veteran coach Jeff Olson was looking for his Ishpeming High School defense to contain explosive Lake City Saturday and he got his wish.
IHS defenders held the Trojans to a minus-17 yards rushing in claiming a 28-13 MHSAA Division 7 regional championship victory at the Ishpeming Sports Complex.
Ishpeming senior Adam Prisk carries the ball as he leaps over teammate Andrew Bennett, bottom right, with Mitch Laurin, left, blocking out front during the fourth quarter against Lake City on Saturday afternoon at the Ishpeming Playgrounds. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
The Hematites (12-0) will now play Harbor Beach in a semifinal contest at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Superior Dome. Harbor Beach dumped Pewamo-Westphalia 31-14 Saturday.
IHS sacked Lake City quarterback Drew Marion three times and picked off three passes in an impressive defensive performance against a team that had averaged 47.7 points a game during the regular season.
"The kids played extremely well defensively," Olson said. "Lake City can score in a hurry with a no-huddle offense.
"We had a couple of (defensive) slips ... but we held them in check most of the game. It was a great defensive effort by our kids."
The Hematites, who got three touchdown runs from Adam Prisk, switched from a four-man to a three-man defensive front for the game.
"We thought it was the best defense to stop (Lake City's) offense and it worked well," Olson said.
Said Alex Briones, an inside linebacker for IHS: "Our defensive line did a heckuva job. We wanted to put pressure on their quarterback (Drew Marion) and we did. We knew he struggles with someone in his face.
"The line took a gap or double-teammed to set me and (IHS linebacker) Mitch Laurin free to get a free shot at the quarterback."
Briones, Prisk and Jordan Tousignant all recorded sacks for the Hematites, while teammates Bobby Zhulkie, Tyrus Millimaki and Noah Olgren came up with interceptions.
"They brought kids in at different angles and that confused our (offensive) linemen a little bit, causing some problems," Lake City head coach Tim Peterson said. "(Marion) can throw, but when kids are in his face, it's tough to do that."
Marion completed 7 of 17 passes for 144 yards and two TDs to go with the three picks.
IHS quarterback Briones, who led his team with 123 yards rushing on 33 tough carries, went 3 for 6 passing for 65 yards and a nine-yard TD pass to tight end Laurin.
Prisk, who finished with 117 yards on the ground in 13 attempts, opened the scoring on a 50-yard spurt in the first quarter off a key block by Briones.
Laurin's scoring catch made it 14-0 in the second, but Lake City (10-2) cut the deficit in half when it got a 52-yard TD pass from Marion to Kevin Kunkel with 3:36 left in the half when an IHS defender slipped while in coverage. Marion's extra-point kick made it 14-7.
The Trojans got to within 14-13 at 8:02 of the third quarter when Jacob Truesdale caught a 17-yard TD aerial from Marion on a fourth-and-9 play. The PAT kick failed, leaving Ishpeming with a narrow lead.
"That was my fault," Olson said about the TD. "I called for a blitz and it left their back open (for the catch)."
But a 55-yard return by Tyrus Millimaki on the ensuing kickoff set up Ishpeming's third score, a spinning, twisting 10-yard run by Prisk, for a two-score lead of 22-13 late in the third.
Millimaki recorded his interception moments later.
Prisk then scored on another twisting run, this time from 11 yards out with 9:49 left in the game before Olgren came up with his pick just three plays later.
With Lake City driving behind a 19-yard keeper by Marion, Prisk sealed the win with a sack on fourth-and-8 with 5:05 remaining.
"I found a hole (in the offensive line) and just went after (Marion)," Prisk said. "(The sack) was a little close, but I gave it my best shot and was successful.
"We adapted to a new defensive formation. Everyone got comfortable with it. It was a little weird on the passing (coverage), but overall, we were successful with it."
Added Olson: "It was a team effort. The kids just refuse to lose. They're extremely competitive and it's good to know they can win close games."
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org