FELCH - Having not played from behind all season, North Dickinson head football coach Joe Reddinger wondered how his team might respond to adversity.
The answer is with an MHSAA Division 8 district trophy.
The unbeaten Nordics, playing catch-up most of the first half, tied L'Anse just before intermission and then ran for five more unanswered touchdowns to pull away 61-30 Friday night at James D. Priestap Memorial Field.
L’Anse’s Jonny Magaraggia (20) encounters North Dickinson’s Cody Berg (23) during their Division 8, Region 1, District 1 championship game Friday night in Felch. The host Nordics won, 61-30. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Theresa Peterson)
The Nordics (10-0) will host St. Ignace (11-0) Friday at 6 p.m. in a regional title game. The Saints downed Stephenson 38-20 in their district final.
"I thought we answered the bell pretty good," Reddinger said. "It wasn't exactly a standing eight count, but we hit the canvas once and we got up and answered the bell."
A fumble on the Nordics' first possession allowed L'Anse to cash in with the game's first points. Cody Goldsworthy ran for a 22-yard tally for the first of his three rushing scores in the game.
North Dickinson answered with Dominic Christian, the game's leading rusher with 193 yards on 16 carries, scoring on 24-yard burst.
L'Anse, finding more success in the air than the ground, used two long completions to Jimmy Veker, a 2-yard Goldsworthy plunge into the endzone and a Jacob Ostermeyer two-point pass to Veker to take a 16-6 first-quarter lead.
Ostermeyer, completing his first five pass in a row, threw for 203 yards (all but nine coming in the first half) and found Veker seven times for 138 yards.
"We didn't have an answer at first," Reddinger said. "We had to make some big-time adjustments ... "
L'Anse's 10-point lead lasted one play.
Christian took the Nordics' very next play from scrimmage straight up the middle for a 65-yard touchdown.
The Purple Hornets struck again early in the second quarter, with Ostermeyer finding Veker again on a fourth down play for an 11-yard score.
After taking over at their own 37, the Nordics ran a solid drive and scored with a 7-yard rush by Tim Hruska, who totaled 114 yards on 13 tries in the game.
Then it was the Nordics turn to recover a kickoff, as neither team was interested giving the other team the ball back.
The short field led to more Nordics points as Ken Pekarek pushed the pile from the 1-yard line, and with Hruska's two-point run, the Nordics had their first lead with 4:40 to play in the half.
"We had some troubles defensively," Reddinger said. "But there was never a thought of packing it in, so that was a good thing."
Another Nordic defensive stop on the next series led to a punt, and with 2:42 to play in the half, North Dickinson went 97-yards for another score. Hruska capped the drive by busting loose for a 23-yard run with 45 seconds to play.