Hopes dashed

Westwood rolls to 8th win as Negaunee knocked out of playoff picture

Westwood’s Nathan Beckman, center, runs the ball up the middle for a two-point conversion, Negaunee’s Jason Waterman, center left, dives for a tackle

By RYAN SPITZA

Journal Sports Writer

ISHPEMING — Nathan Beckman and Ashton Bergman combined to run for nearly 300 yards, dashing Negaunee’s playoff hopes as the Westwood Patriots defeated the Miners 30-14 in a Mid-Peninsula Conference matchup at Westwood on Friday.

Westwood improved to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the Mid-Peninsula Conference, while Negaunee ends its season at 4-5 and 4-2, missing the MHSAA playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Beckman had 169 yards on the ground while Bergman put up 122 as the quarterback-running back duo was too strong for the Miners defense to contain.

Westwood head coach Scott Syrjala said critical first-half mistakes by his team kept the Miners in the game.

“We have a young team ourselves,” he said. “We shot ourselves in the foot a lot in the first half. We weren’t hollering or screaming at halftime, we went in, calm as a staff, talked to our kids and said ‘Listen, we know we made mistakes, let’s stop making them.’ We tweaked a couple of things and our kids really responded. I’m proud of them.”

The mistakes Syrjala referred were mishandled balls. The Patriots lost three fumbles in the first half, two in the red zone and one on a muffed punt return.

Negaunee head coach Paul Jacobson said as his team’s season comes to an end, the current seniors have made next year’s squad better.

“It’s a learning experience for all of these guys,” he said. “Our seniors will be better because of it, they played their (butts) off and they were able to establish themselves as leaders and we wouldn’t be where we are today without that senior leadership. We’re going to miss the seniors, but the future looks promising.”

Negaunee got things started on the opening drive when Jason Waterman found a wide-open Drew DuShane for a 36-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was missed but the Miners led 6-0 just over four minutes in.

The Patriots put together an 11-play drive on the ensuing possession before fumbling the ball away on the Negaunee 21-yard line that was recovered by the Miners’ Ander Sorensen.

After trading a few more possessions, Westwood drove to the red zone before fumbling once again. Negaunee went three-and-out after that, and it wasn’t long before Beckman notched his first touchdown of the night on a 38-yard run. The two-point conversion was good to put the Patriots up 8-6 just before halftime.

After another three-and-out, Negaunee was forced to punt. The punt was muffed and recovered by the Miners. On the first play after that, Waterman found Keegan Erva for a 33-yard TD pass and the two-point conversion put Negaunee up 14-8 at the half.

While Negaunee hung tough and had the lead, the Patriots offense started wearing on the Miners defense. Negaunee was shut out in the second half, with the Patriots scoring three unanswered touchdowns.

Bergman ran in from the 4-yard line on second-and-goal for his first score of the night to tie the game 14-14.

It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Westwood took the lead for good, with Bergman running for 28 yards this time and the two-point conversion putting the Patriots up 22-14 with 9:53 left.

Beckman found Jacob Adriano on an 8-yard TD pass with 3:20 to play, all but putting the game and the playoffs for the Miners, away for good.

Beckman had 44 yards passing for 213 all-purpose yards. Other leaders for the Patriots included Adriano, who had 45 yards receiving. Waterman had 95 yards through the air for Negaunee while Robbie Williams was the Miners’ leading rusher with 46 yards. Erva and DuShane combined for 95 yards receiving.

Westwood had 368 yards of total offense to Negaunee’s 136.

Westwood now awaits their MHSAA Division 7 playoff matchup with the selection show airing Sunday evening on Fox Sports Detroit Plus.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net

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