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Ishpeming Hematites pull out football win at last second at Lake Linden-Hubbell, 36-34

Ishpeming’s Jacob Kugler catches a pass in the fourth quarter of the Hematites’ game against Lake Linden-Hubbell in Lake Linden on Saturday. (Photo courtesy Cara Kamps)

LAKE LINDEN — It was only fitting that Ishpeming and Lake Linden-Hubbell would play a classic game of football Saturday afternoon.

After all, the Hematites (2-0) and Lakes are two of the most prominent small-school programs in the state with a number of deep playoff runs over the past three decades between them.

But when the dust cleared at Ron Warner Field, Ishpeming had a 36-34 last-second victory tucked away in a contest of wild momentum swings.

It wasn’t until Ishpeming quarterback John Corkin scrambled into the end zone from three yards out with 6.9 seconds left that the Marquette County crew could take a deep breath.

LL-H (1-1) seemed to have the game won when William Lyons picked up a fumble and raced 93 yards to paydirt with 2:25 left.

“We didn’t feel the game was over at that point,” Hematites head coach George Niemi said. “We told the kids that we just got punched in the mouth, and how are we going to handle that? We knew we had some time and that we were moving the ball.”

Lakes coach Andy Crouch said his players were “home run hitters.”

“We just went up and hit the ball over the fence,” said Crouch, whose team played again without ace quarterback Carter Crouch. “We couldn’t sustain anything against their defense, but we hit some big plays.”

Did they ever.

The Lakes had touchdown runs of 86, 87 and 41 yards in the first half alone as they took a 20-8 halftime lead.

The much bigger Hematites grabbed the early lead in the first quarter on a 4-yard TD run by 6-foot-2, 230-pound fullback Otto Swanson. Corkin ran in the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.

The Lakes then scored 20 straight points in the second beginning when Caleb Klein sprinted 86 yards to paydirt. With the 2-points conversion, it was tied 8-8.

The Hematites took advantage of a bad snap over the head of the Lakes punter in the third quarter that ended up on the LL-H 5.

IHS’ Tommy Sjoblom covered the last four yards for the score and also added the conversion to pull his team within 20-14.

The Lakes got that one back when LaVigne, who had a big day, spiraled a 35-yard TD pass to Lyons. That made it 26-14.

Corkin, who totaled 275 yards on the ground, reeled off scoring plays of 24 and 67 yards to begin the final quarter. That gave the eventual winners a 30-26 lead with six minutes left.

Ishpeming held a 68-35 edge in total plays.

On Friday, the Lakes travel to Gwinn, while the Hematites visit Norway.