Shining on offense
Miners break into win column with 35-0 thumping of Iron Mountain
By RYAN SPITZA
Journal Sports Staff
NEGAUNEE — Jason Waterman and Drew DuShane each had big nights propelling the Negaunee Miners football team to its first win of the season over Iron Mountain 35-0 at Miners Stadium on Friday night.
Negaunee improved to 1-3 while Iron Mountain dropped to 0-4 in this battle of Mid-Peninsula Conference foes.
Waterman went 5 for 8 for 62 yards through the air, throwing two touchdown passes, and also intercepted an IM pass while playing defense early in the second half.
DuShane scored three touchdowns, including an 80-yard kickoff return to open the second half.
Negaunee head coach Paul Jacobson said his team put together a complete game.
“We were finally able to put four quarters together with some confidence,” he said. “We shot ourselves in the foot early on quite a bit (this season) but I’m just happy for these guys, they continue to work hard, continue to be positive, show up every day. I’m proud for these guys and I’m glad for them to get a win tonight.”
Jacobson added despite being 0-3 going in, he didn’t let his players hang their heads and encouraged them to keep chipping away at getting a win.
“Everything we’ve done to this point, we’ve played not to lose,” he said. “Tonight was a huge step in playing to win for four quarters. It took time watching film, learning and studying and just working hard.
“My hats off to these guys, they worked hard and they earned it.”
Iron Mountain head coach Robin Marttila said despite the effort, his team didn’t execute well.
“I thought we battled and I thought we competed,” he said. “Negaunee is obviously a lot better than their 0-3 record and we knew that coming in. We were just outgunned.
“I’m happy with the effort, we just didn’t make the plays. We’ll go back to work on Monday and go from there.”
It was a defensive first quarter with both teams trading the ball five times that included an interception by IM’s Jacob Tucker and a fumble recovery shortly after that by the Miners’ Brayden Velmer.
After an Iron Mountain punt, Negaunee’s Jake Hill ran the ball for 54 yards to set up the Miners at the IM 1-yard line. A holding penalty pushed the Miners back 10 yards, but that wasn’t a problem for Waterman, who found DuShane in the end zone for a 12-yard TD with just four-tenths of a second left in the first quarter. Erik Salminen’s first of five straight extra-point kicks made it 7-0.
In the second quarter, DuShane came up big again. After another IM punt, DuShane raced for a 32-yard run to put Negaunee in great field position. A few plays later from the IM 15, Waterman ran for a couple of yards before pitching the ball to Eric Etelamaki, who burst up the left side and into the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
Only a two-score game at the half, IM ran into trouble immediately at the start of the third quarter.
DuShane took the second-half kickoff 80 yards to the house for his second TD.
On the ensuing possession for the Mountaineers, substitute quarterback Charlie Gerhard’s pass was picked off by Waterman and returned to the IM 20.
Waterman quickly found Keegan Erva on a screen pass as Erva hustled in from the 20 to go up 28-0 and break the game wide open.
On the ensuing kickoff, IM’s Evan Geronimi fumbled and the Miners jumped on it, setting up great field position once again from the Mountaineers’ 24.
A few plays later, Waterman connected with DuShane on a screen pass for an 18-yard TD and DuShane’s third score of the night.
Those 21 points all came in the first 2:40 of the third quarter.
Leaders for Negaunee, along with Waterman and DuShane, included Hill who led the way for the Miners on the ground with 82 yards on seven carries. IM’s Sawyer Hicks ran for 28 yards on 10 carries while Jacob Tucker was 3 for 8 with 38 yards through the air.
Negaunee ran 37 plays for 296 yards of total offense while Iron Mountain had 90 yards on 43 plays. First downs were 13-7 in favor of Negaunee. Each team had three turnovers.
Negaunee travels to Gwinn (2-2) on Friday in another M-PC game, while Iron Mountain also has a league matchup with Westwood (3-1) at home.
Email Ryan Spitza at email@example.com.