By BURT ANGELI
KINGSFORD - Kingsford and Gladstone attempted to match the Flivver band's dazzling halftime fireworks show Friday.
Theresa Peterson/The Daily News Photo
KINGSFORD’s Aidan WIENKE is brought down after hauling in one of his nine receptions against Gladstone Friday at Flivver Field.
They came close.
Reed Larson galloped for 210 yards and scored four times to spark Kingsford past Gladstone 49-28 in Great Northern Conference football at Flivver Field,
The two teams combined for more than 800 yards total offense as the Flivvers clinched a share of the league title.
"We wanted to have a good offensive game and I thought we did," said coach Chris Hofer, whose Flivvers built a 21-0 lead before the Braves rallied. "We just didn't make any plays (defensively) and they did. We made them early, then they spread us out a little bit."
While Kingsford recorded 501 yards in offense, Gladstone moved to a spread formation offensively and finished with 332 behind junior quarterback Sam Pouliot.
"We knew we had a tough task coming in," said Coach Josh Mileski, his Braves saddled with a sixth straight loss. "We've had a rough stretch but I'm proud of our kids.
"We played a lot better than a lot of people expected. We gave them a little run for their money at times."
Kingsford's 21-0 lead came in the first nine minutes, with Larson (one yard) and Sean Ryan (five) running for scores and Aidan Wienke grabbing a 16-yard pass from Caleb Harrington for the other.
Gladstone recovered with a pair of scores, one on a nine-yard pitch from Pouliot to Riley Ballard and another with Justin Jurek streaking 24 yards to close the gap to 21-14 at 9:57 of the second quarter.
"We had trouble making a play," Hofer said. "Boom, boom, all of a sudden it's a close game again." Two more Larson touchdown plunges opened the lead to 35-14 but the Braves wrapped up the first half with Blake Ballard snagging a five-yard pass from Pouliot for a 35-21 margin.
Pouliot completed nine of 23 passes for 168 yards and was effective running the football for 52 yards.
"I think they were anticipating us running out of the 'I' and doing our stuff there," Mileski said. "They stoned us pretty hard early. We went to our spread look and I don't think they were quite ready for it. That gave us a little advantage."
The Flivvers did check the Braves to 40 yards passing in the second half.
"Maybe we just weren't ready for it," Hofer said. "We knew they had the two (offensive) packages. We didn't cover the pass very well."
Harrington flipped just one second-half pass and that went 21 yards to Larson for a touchdown. Harrington connected on 11 of 13 passes for 141 yards, with Wienke grabbing nine for 102.
"Offensively, we did some good things and threw the ball pretty well, caught it really well," Hofer said.
Mileski was impressed with Larson and the Flivver offensive options with the Wing-T. Larson carried the football 25 times, with 19 in the first half going for 163.
"Larson's a good football player and one of the best we've faced this year," Mileski said. "But hat's off to Kingsford. That's a good football team and they're well coached.
"Overall, our kids played hard and I'm pleased with our effort."
Cole Peterson's 36-yard sweep in the third quarter completed the Flivver TD assault.
The Flivvers put up a goal line stand to thwart the Braves early in the fourth quarter but they came back on the next series with Pouliot scampering 10 yards for a score.
Kingsford recovered three Gladstone fumbles - Connor Berndt, Lucas Jennings and Casey McGuire came up with them - while Gladstone's Jacob Cronick and Sam Pouliot fell on two Flivver bobbles.
"That's kind of been the story of the year," Mileski said of the turnovers. "We've had our chances in a lot of games.
"Those turnovers, obviously, can't happen. But with a junior dominated team that's going to happen."
Both schools play their final regular season games next week, with the Flivvers (7-1 overall, 3-0 GNC) looking to win the GNC outright at Escanaba and Gladstone (2-6, 0-4) meeting Calumet.
"It's always nice to win the conference," Hofer noted.
NOTES: Kickers Gabe Swanson (7-for-7) and Lucas LaCosse (4-for-4) were perfect on extra-points ... Flivver starting defensive back Craig Qualley left the game with a first-half injury and did not return.
Gladstone 7 14 0 7 - 28
Kingsford 21 14 14 0 - 49
K - Reed Larson 1 run (Gabe Swanson kick), 10:48.
K - Aidan Wienke 16 pass from Caleb Harrington (Swanson kick), 5:33.
K - Sean Ryan 5 run (Swanson kick), 3:24.
G - Riley Ballard 9 pass from Sam Pouliot (Lucas LaCosse kick), :07.
G - Justin Jurek 24 run (LaCosse kick), 9:57.
K - Larson 1 run (Swanson kick), 7:07.
K - Larson 2 run (Swanson kick), 2:28.
G - Blake Ballard 5 pass from Pouliot (LaCosse kick), :23.
K - Larson 21 pass from Harrington (Swanson kick), 7:12.
K - Cole Peterson 36 run (Swanson kick), 3:05.
G - Pouliot 10 run (LaCosse kick), 3:19.
Total offense - Kingsford 501 (360 rushing, 141 passing), Gladstone 332 (164 rushing, 168 passing).
Rushing - Kingsford, Harrington 2-zero, Ryan 12-48, Larson 25-210, Peterson 3-40, Curran 4-37, Patterson 5-25; Gladstone, Pouliot 8-52, Jurek 14-59, Riley Ballard 8-53.
Passing - K, Harrington 11-13-0, 141; G, Pouliot 9-23-0, 168.
Receiving - K, Wienke 9-102, Larson 2-39; G, Justin Pederson 2-46, Jurek 3-55, R. Ballard 1-9, B. Ballard 3-58.
Penalties - K, 5-40; G, 5-33.
First downs - K, 24; G, 18.