By John Vrancic
For the Daily News
STAMBAUGH - The West Iron County Wykons celebrated their homecoming in style, earning a 26-0 football triumph over the Houghton Gremlins.
It didn't take the Wykons long to gain the upper hand in this West Pac Conference match-up, taking a 7-0 lead on a 12-yard run around left end by junior Adam Newby with six minutes, 40 seconds left in the first quarter.
"We had a nice drive early on, which I thought set the tone," said West Iron coach Mike Berutti. "We've been struggling to put points on the board, so it was important for us to score early. Houghton's defensive line is tough, and we knew that coming in. They haven't been giving up a lot of points."
West Iron (3-2 overall, 2-1 league) scored again three minutes later when sophomore Alec Schmelebeck broke the middle on a quick and tight double reverse, dashing 39 yards for a 14-0 advantage.
Early in the second stanza, the Wykons turned the ball over on downs at its own 36-yard line, providing Houghton with an excellent scoring opportunity.
The Wykons, however, didn't allow Houghton to reach the end zone.
"We had some opportunities in the first half," said Houghton coach Karl Borree. "But we had a high snap and got tackled behind the line of scrimmage (for a nine-yard loss), which is not a good combination in a homecoming game against a team that's used to being in the playoffs. West Iron County is a very good team. They played tough, which is what you'd expect from a team of their caliber."
The Wykons raised the count to 20-0 on the ensuing possession as Schmelebeck slipped through the right side on a two-yard run.
"It was huge having the three-possession lead at halftime with homecoming and all the other activities that come with it," said Berutti. "We're happy with the way our kids came out and played and appreciate Houghton giving the effort they did. I thought they played with a lot of inspiration, especially in the second half."
West Iron finished the scoring late in the third frame on junior Andrew Peterson's quarterback sneak, set up two plays earlier on Newby's 49-yard jaunt to the Houghton two.
The Wykons collected 350 yards in total offense, including 291 on the ground.
Schmelebeck rushed 20 times for 121 yards and Newby added 105 on eight carries.
Peterson was 4-of-9 passing for 59. Three of his aerials went to junior Chasz Jonet for 59, with the remaining completion to Schmelebeck for no gain.
The Wykons played without senior running back Tyler Stafford, who was out with an arm injury, and senior Cody Carter-DesJardins was forced out of the contest with an ankle injury in the third quarter.
The Gremlins, starting four sophomores, managed 181 yards against West Iron's nickel defense. They ran for 114 yards, with senior Zackary Ohtonen gaining 65 in 16 attempts.
Sophomore Benjamin Collaer hit 6-of-16 passes for 77 yards and one interception in his first start at QB.
West Iron visits Calumet Friday.
Houghton 0 0 0 0 - 0
West Iron County 14 6 6 0 - 26
WIC - Adam Newby, 12-yard run (Ryan Rogers kick), 6:40
WIC - Alec Schmelebeck, 39-yard run (Rogers kick), 3:40
WIC - Schmelebeck, two-yard run (kick failed), 5:15
WIC - Peterson, one-yard-run (pass failed), 1:42
Total offense - West Iron County 350 yards (291 rushing, 59 passing); Houghton 181 yards (114 rushing, 77 passing)
Rushing - West Iron County (Schmelebeck 20-121, Newby 8-105, Chasz Jonet 6-33, Ron Varney 4-19, Andrew Peterson 5-8; Houghton (Zackary Ohtonen 16-65, Alexander Helman 3-22, Noah Budd 3-20, Seth Kaarto 1-7, Ryan LaBerge 1-5, Benjamin Collaer 14-minus-1, Dyson Bastien 1-minus-4).
Passing - West Iron County (Peterson 4-9, 59 yards); Houghton (Collaer 6-16, 77 yards, one interception).
Receiving - West Iron County (Jonet 3-59, Schmelebeck 1-0); Houghton (LeBerge 2-41, Sam Bethancourt 3-20, Ohtonen (1-16).