KINGSFORD - Iron Mountain, coming up with big plays on offense and defense, frustrated Kingsford 23-6 in the 87th meeting between the Twin City football rivals Saturday at Flivver Field.
The unbeaten Mountaineers assembled a 21-6 halftime lead and denied the Flivvers with four turnovers plus two defensive stands.
"It was a great win for our football team," first-year head coach Robin Marttila said. "I'm happy for our football team and our program."
Quarterback Alex Herman and running back Taylor Huotari connected on a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes to trigger the Mountaineers to their fourth straight win over the Flivvers.
"We had our chances," Flivver coach Chris Hofer said. "Our old nemesis nipped us in the butt.
"Defending the pass, finishing off offensive drives, that's something we've been fighting all year. It stung us again today."
Theresa Peterson/The Daily News Photos
Iron Mountain’s Taylor Huotari runs for a first-quarter touchdown after catching a pass from Alex Herman Saturday at Flivver Field. Kingsford’s Jeff Gregory gives chase.
Flivver running back Reed Larson gained 188 yards on 18 carries including a 65-yard blast late in the first quarter that closed the deficit to 14-6.
"We played hard, prepared hard, thought we had a good plan," Hofer said. "We got caught in a few things and that's the way it goes."
The first of two Brad Blomquist pass thefts sent the Mountaineers on their way. Nik Flood tipped the opening-series throw and Blomquist came down with it at the 44.
"He just gets the job done," Marttila said of the senior defensive back. "He's a smart football player that knows what's going on on the football field."
Iron Mountain, after calling two timeouts, faked sweep and came back with Herman firing 37 yards to a wide-open Huotari.
A Nate Secinaro fumble recovery at the Mountaineer 7 gave Herman-to-Huotari another opportunity, this one for 61 yards.
"Herman made some great reads to Huotari," Marttila said.
An all-alone Huotari described the play as a "skinny post down the field."
"That was a big play and that was our play," Hofer said of the quarterback throwing to a running back. "That's a play we've run in this game a million times."
How did Huotari break open?
"Probably a combination of a lot of things," Hofer said.
Mountaineers figured the passing game would be needed early to loosen up the Flivver defense.
"Kingsford is always a hard team to run the football on because they're so big and physical up front," Marttila said. "We knew we had to open it up a little bit. And Alex Herman made the right throw and Taylor Huotari can make that play."
Kingsford answered Iron Mountain's aerial scores immediately, with Larson blasting up the middle for 65 yards.
Iron Mountain came back on the next series with Paul Brooks running 10 yards to the end zone for a 21-6 spread. Flivvs aided that score by jumping off-side on a fourth-and-three from the 39.
Brooks topped the Mountaineers with 103 yards rushing on 23 attempts.
But the Flivvers responded with a drive that stalled at the Mountaineer 2. Four straight running plays from the 10, including a fourth-and-one from the two, failed to dent the scoreboard. Huotari led the defensive charge that stopped Larson on the
late first-half play.
Mountaineers shut down Larson and the Flivver offense in the second half. Kingsford mustered 54 yards in the final quarters, with 22 on the ground.
"Kingsford took it to us in the first half," Marttila said. "Reed Larson is a big, physical kid you can't bring down with one guy.
"He got going in the first half, but we were able to stop the running game in the second half."
In the third quarter, Iron Mountain recorded a safety on Kingsford's first series when Joe Wender sacked quarterback Jeff Gregory.
"Joe Wender made a heck of a play," Marttila noted.
With the deficit now 23-6, Kingsford threatened following a Brett Michaud fumble recovery.
The Flivvers, with a 16-yard pass to Jake Menard one of the big plays, advanced to the Mountaineer 4. But a fourth down roll-out from there was stuffed when Tony Ward took down Gregory.
Kingsford regained possession on the Mountaineer 28 to begin the next series. But Blomquist's second pick, out of a Mountaineer zone defense, halted that effort.
"I just read the quarterback's eyes, went up and made a play," Blomquist said.
Clint Collins recovered a Flivver fumble to wrap up the Mountaineer defensive domination in the second half. Iron Mountain controlled the football for 18 minutes.
"We wore them down a bit and moved the line of scrimmage," said Marttila, who unleashed Wender for six trips and 30 yards in the second half. "Our two big fullbacks got better as the game went on.
"It's a credit to our offensive line."
Mountaineers (7-0), with this week off, close out the regular season Friday, Oct. 21, with Norway. They're seeking a third perfect regular season since 1999.
"I 'm happy that we had some adversity and handled adversity," said Marttila, defensive coordinator under Scott Boddy for the previous three wins over the Flivvers. "Up to this point, things have been pretty easy for us.
"Once you get in the playoffs, every team is going to bring adversity because you're facing nothing but good football teams."
Flivvers (3-4), needing two more wins to own any chance of a playoff berth, travel to winless Gladstone on Friday.
"We have not been able to get over the hump this year," Hofer said. "It's too bad because we've got some really good kids.
"We're just looking for that one play."
NOTES: Iron Mountain owns a 45-39-3 lead in the series ... Marlene Hann, a Florida resident and 1966 Kingsford High School graduate, won $2,110 in the Kingsford Flivver Athletic Booster Club's 50-50 game drawing ... Herman didn't throw a pass in the second half ... United States Air Force presented $500 "outstanding achievement" scholarships to Iron Mountain's Nathan Secinaro and Kingsford's Aaron Sussman between the third and fourth quarters. Sussman carries a 4.024 grade point average; Secinaro, 3.88 ... Dropped passes, at least two with potential for big yardage, also hurt the Flivvers.
Iron Mountain 14 7 2 0 - 23
Kingsford 6 0 0 0 - 6
IM Taylor Huotari 37 pass from Alex Herman (Nik Flood kick), 8:51.
IM - Huotari 61 pass from Herman (Flood kick), 1:00.
K - Reed Larson 65 run (kick failed), :44.
IM - Paul Brooks 10 run (Flood kick), 7:06.
IM - Safety (Wender tackled Gregory), 7:43.
Total offense - Iron Mountain 332 (212 rushing, 120 passing), Kingsford 276 (245 rushing, 31 passing).
Rushing - IM, Herman 8-25, Huotari 5-61, Flood 4-3, Brooks 23-103, Wender 7-30; Kingsford, Gregory 3-10, Larson 18-188, DeRidder 1-7, Menard 4-7, Sussman 3-33.
Passing - IM, Herman 3-6-0, 120; Kingsford, Gregory, 4-10-2, 31.
Receiving - IM, Huotari 2-98, Flood 1-22; Kingsford, Wienke 1-zero; Larson 1-7, Menard 2-25.
Pass interceptions - IM, Blomquist (two).
Penalties - IM, 5-47; Kingsford, 4-35.