NORWAY - Norway overcame game-ending injuries to two starters and held off potent Stephenson 14-8 Friday night in non-conference football at Ronberg Field.
With fullback Jake Pedrotti exiting after just two carries, and tailback Jorden Neumann leaving in the third quarter, quarterback Isaac Bray engineered a nine-play, 83-yard drive for the game's go ahead touchdown with under three minutes to play.
"it's the kids that stepped up," Knights coach Bob Madigan said. "We've lost four players in the past two weeks and kids that have just stepped up and played, I can't say enough. They played with a lot of heart here today."
Daniel Bal looks for running room.
Bray, who passed for 112 yards and one touchdown, completed passes to Austin Grayvold for 16 yards and Daniel Bal for 15 yards before picking up 20 more yards on a keeper.
Grayvold, Bill Hansley and Bill Bourg kept the chains moving inside Eagle territory before Bray capped the drive with a one-yard plunge up the middle.
Stephenson, which scored 36 and 41 points in its first two games this season, had 2:45 to work with after the Norway score. Taking over at their own 42 yard line, the Eagles moved near the 20 before facing fourth and four in the final minute.
Austin Grinsteiner completed a screen pass, but the receiver slipped and went down a yard short of the first down.
While the slippery turf aided in the game's final stop, it was Norway's defense which kept the Knights in the ballgame throughout the first half.
Stephenson was first and goal from the seven on their second possession of the game and couldn't punch it in. Nolan Lukasik was dropped for a two-yard loss on fourth down from the one yard line.
Grinsteiner and Travis Wangerin looked ready to hook-up for a long touchdown on the Eagle's next possession when Grayvold stepped in at the last second for an interception.
"We should have been up 14-0 at the half," Stephenson coach Chad Brandt said. "You can't do that against a good team because Norway is not going anywhere.
"Their kids played so hard tonight. They gave themselves opportunities, and they cashed in on those opportunities. We did not cash in on our opportunities."
Stephenson was 17 yards away from the end zone ahead of Norway's final drive, when a pressured Grinsteiner threw incomplete into the endzone on fourth and six. Grinsteiner had only one second-half completion after eight in the first half.
"I was deathly afraid of Lukasik, Wangerin and that quarterback," Madigan said. "But we had a great day here and the kids really earned it."
Donny Houle, a mighty 130-pound force all night on defense, led Norway with nine tackles. Neumann had eight. Riley Johnson had a fumble recovery on a muffed punt in the second quarter.
Scoreless at halftime, Norway plowed down the field on the opening possession of the third quarter.
Neumann carried the bulk of the workload on the 66-yard drive before Bray launched a 26-yard ariel to Grayvold down the right sideline. Grayvold bobbled the ball a little but held on as he came down in the endzone. He also hauled in the two-point try.
Stephenson answered on the next drive, going 67 yards with Grinsteiner sneaking in for a two-yard score, and then running in for two more.
"It was quite a game," Madigan said. "A good hard-fought game. Good tackling, good hitting. Our line held up. Coach Duval, he just did phenomenal job on offense."
Neumann led Norway's rushers with 54 yards on 13 tries before exiting. Bray added 51 yards, 20 coming on his sneak during the fourth quarter drive, and another 21 coming off a well-executed option play in the first quarter.
Knights (2-1) open Mid-Peninsula play Friday at Manistique.
Stephenson 0 0 8 0 - 8
Norway 0 0 8 6 - 14
N - Austin Grayvold 26 pass from Isaac Bray (Grayvold pass from Bray), 7:54.
S - Austin Grinsteiner 2 run (Grinsteiner run), 2:23.
N - Bray 1 run (run failed), 2:56.
Total yards - Stephenson 289 (198 run, 91 pass); Norway 251 (139 run, 112 pass).
Rushing leaders - S: T.J. Raether 14-98, Nolan Lukasik 18-82; N: Jorden Neumann 13-54, Bray 8-51.
Receiving leaders - S: N. Lukasik 1-48, Travis Wangerin 4-19; N: , Daniel Bal 3-54, A. Grayvold 2-42.
Passing - S: Grinsteiner 9-14-91-0-1; Bray 7-10-112-1-0.
Interceptions - N: Austin Grayvold.
First downs - S: 15; N: 12.
Penalties - S: 2-20; N: 2-10.