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Gremlins hold off Gwinn 28-24 for first win

HOUGHTON — Houghton survived a second-half shootout to beat Gwinn 28-24 in a West PAC high school football matchup on Friday night.

The Gremlins (1-4) and Modeltowners (0-5) combined for 32 points in the third quarter. The lead changed hands four times in the second half before a 55-yard touchdown run by Ty Halonen in the fourth quarter gave the edge the Gremlins needed for the win.

The long scoring run is something Gwinn head coach Dion Brown has seen all year.

“Pretty good game. Big plays been killin’ us all year — all year — mistakes. But it was a good game,” Brown said. “We knew that they would play hard. They’ve been playing hard the first two games.

“But at the end of the day, another game we felt like we could win. It’s just that we ain’t doin’ it. It’s like we looked for ways to lose — big plays. We had a chance to go up 10 with four minutes left and we get a holding call. Those are the little things the guys gotta learn from.”

Houghton’s defense had to come up with one last stop as Gwinn took the ball at its own 10-yard line with 1:10 remaining. The Modeltowners advanced to their own 33 before an incomplete pass with no time remaining sealed the Gremlins’ win.

“In the second half, we eliminated a lot of mistakes,” Houghton head coach Kurt Huffmaster said. “We made a lot of alignment mistakes and everything else in the first half. Second half, they played a pretty clean game. That made a difference.”

Gwinn had multiple chances to take control.

The Modeltowners also had a chance to take the lead late in the second quarter, driving inside the Houghton 10 but came up empty with a turnover on downs on an incomplete pass on 4th-and-13.

Houghton took the ball in the third and scored on the opening possession with a 2-yard run by Xander Zapolnik. Gwinn’s James Harnick caught a 19-yard pass with seven minutes left in the third, but the two-point try failed and kept Houghton ahead 14-12. It forced the Modeltowners to play catch-up, which they did in the third quarter.

Both teams traded scores in a 40-second span of the third. Then Blaine Bridges scored on a 3-yard run with 3:23 to go to give Gwinn an 18-14 lead.

Houghton took the ball and Nathan Erva scored on a 57-yard pass from Tedd Halonen on the first play of the drive. The two-point failed and the Gremlins led 20-18.

Gwinn returned the ensuing kickoff about 75 yards and took a 24-20 lead.

“They had back-to-back plays in the special teams,” Huffmaster said. “They scored on a kick and we turned it right back over on the return. That really hurt us, but our kids kept battling back and their kids did, too.”

The Modeltowners then recovered a fumble on the kickoff and had a chance to take command. A 2nd-and-3 pass from Gwinn quarterback Caleb Anderson at Houghton’s 24 into the end zone was nearly caught. Gwinn was flagged for offensive pass interference one play before Houghton’s Ty Halonen intercepted a pass.

Gwinn hauled in an interception and drove to the Houghton 32. A pass from Anderson was caught by ToQuan Starnes for a touchdown, but it was called back on a holding penalty and the Modeltowners punted.

“Our linemen gotta move their feet,” Brown said. “Just getting the outside zone run play to work a few times. Quarterback did a great job with the (run-pass option). He threw one bad pass. Other than that I’m satisfied with the way we could move the ball. It’s just every time — drive killers.”

Houghton took the ball and scored on Ty Halonen’s 55-yard run with 4:08 left for the lead.

After Gwinn got the ball back, Houghton’s Jackson Borree sacked Anderson on a third-and-7.

“We were able to get pressure on their quarterback in the fourth quarter and that made a big difference,” Huffmaster said. “Once we got some pressure on them, it really made a difference. He’s a good quarterback. I thought he was a real good player. He had a lot of good carries on offense. In the fourth quarter we got pressure on him and we were able to take away a lot of their passing stuff.”

Gwinn visits Ishpeming on Friday.