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Mustangs, Patriots, Modeltowners pound their run games to victory

By Journal Sports Staff

MUNISING – The Munising Mustangs are making that late-season run again.

The last two seasons the Mustangs have rattled off long winning streaks to end the regular season, two years ago to get into the playoffs and last year to shore up their playoff position.

On Friday night, Munising put its stamp on Division 8 football in the Upper Peninsula with a 19-12 home victory over Bark River-Harris.

The battle of one-loss teams keeps the Mustangs in the Mid-Eastern Football Conference race at 2-1 as the Broncos slip to 3-1. Newberry also had one loss entering Friday’s play.

The difference in Munising (6-1 overall) was turnovers – Mustangs teammates Mike Graves and Alec Blank combined for five interceptions while their own offense didn’t turn the ball over.

It more than made up for a 244-190 deficit in total yards.

“(Bark River) has been able to move the ball both on the ground and through the air,” MHS coach Jeff Seaberg said. “But we’ve done well against the run.”

Trailing 13-12 at halftime, it made the Broncos (5-2) more one-dimensional while trying to go for the go-ahead score. And it was also the time that Graves and Blank each made two pickoffs. The fifth turnover was a Graves interception in the first half.

“They did an outstanding job,” Seaberg said about his two defensive backs. “We wanted them much more conscious not to let their receivers get behind us, plus we used our pass rush to hurry their quarterback’s throws.”

The visitors opened the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run by Alex Mathias about halfway through the first quarter. With the two-point run failing, BR-H led 6-0.

Not much more than three minutes later, Munising answered when QB Will Seymour, who went out of the game around halftime, scored on a 1-yard run. A pivotal extra-point kick was good by Ian McInnis to make it 7-6 Mustangs.

Munising extended the lead to 13-6 on a Corey Cotey 3-yard run just 31 seconds into the second quarter, but the Broncos answered with a 6-yard TD pass from QB Bryce Sundquist to Jacob Greenfield four minutes later.

However, BR-H missed on the two-point try for the second time, leaving the home team with a tenuous 13-12 halftime edge.

It stayed that way until 1:15 was left to play when Cotey ran in for some insurance from 11 yards out.

Each team had a 100-yard back, Thomas Hyde of Munising running it 34 times for 120 yards while Mathias was 15 for 121. Cotey also had 57 yards in 10 tries.

Sundquist was 11 of 26 for 103 yards but with the five pickoffs. MHS’ Seymour and Blank combined to go 0 for 3 through the air.

Westwood 56, Norway 15

At Norway, Patriots coach Scott Syrjala was proud of his team’s patience and tenaciousness.

That was because Norway (2-5, 1-3 Mid-Peninsula Conference) scored first, then pulled within 15-14 early in the second quarter on a big 69-yard scoring play.

“Things are starting to come together for us,” Syrjala said. “The guys didn’t hang their heads after the big plays. We responded right back.”

Did they ever – after the 69-yard TD pass from Knights QB Bryce Grayvold to Bryce Broden, Westwood (4-3, 2-2) answered with four TDs in the final 6 1/2 minutes of the first half to take a 42-15 lead at the break.

It was Luke Gray & Co., with the former scoring four times in the first half on scoring runs of 1, 2, 60 and 65 yards. The “company” was Darren Wing adding a 1-yard TD run and Ethan Burke a 75-yard interception return just 30 seconds before halftime.

The Patriots’ defense responded in the second half, posting a shutout as teammate Brandon Benda scored on 10- and 13-yards runs after intermission.

Gray also piled up a whopping 324 yards rushing on just 20 attempts, part of Westwood’s 466-yard running attack.

Their defense limited Norway to just 64 total yards, including 51 on the ground in 26 tries.

Gwinn 28, Hancock 12

At Gwinn, Devin Dachs returned with a vengeance for the Modeltowners (2-5), scoring 26 of his team’s points while carrying the rushing load with 227 yards on 37 carries.

Dachs scored from 1 yard out in the first quarter, 6 yards away in the second and 11 and 28 yards out in the third as the Modeltowners built a 28-6 lead. Dachs added a 2-point conversion on his second TD, while teammate Logan Kruhlik did the same on the first score.

Hancock (1-6) scored on a 1-yard Darren Nordstrom run late in the third quarter, then added another TD on a 91-yard run by Alex Dewald about 4 1/2 minutes into the final quarter.

Dewald finished with 101 yards rushing as Gwinn held a 370-249 edge in total yards. The Modeltowners’ Kevin Roberts completed 3 of 7 passes for 44 yards as Gwinn had 326 yards on the ground.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.