By RON DEUTER
NORWAY - A classic Mid-Peninsula Conference shootout came down to one final untimed play Friday night at Ronberg Field.
Theresa Proudfit/the Daily News Photo
Norway’s Taylor Bonetti fires a pass during the first half Friday at Ronberg Field.
Manistique's Tyler Kangas lofted a pass to the end zone that fell just inches beyond the reach of a diving Cole Potvin, allowing Norway to escape with a 36-34 victory.
"I knew it'd be like this," Norway coach Bob Madigan said. "I told the kids earlier in the week, I was looking up the rules for overtime, because I thought this was the type of game it'd be."
The Emeralds, desperately but unsuccessfully trying avoid an 0-4 start to the season, staged a gutsy second-half comeback despite trailing 30-14 midway through the third quarter. Tyler Baker gave Manistique its only lead of the game when he pounced on a fumble of a Norway punt attempt in the end zone with 4:20 to play in the game.
Norway quickly answered with quarterback Taylor Bonetti orchestrating a five-play, 48-yard drive to put the Knights back in front. Bonetti broke for a 30-yard run on the first play and finished with a one-yard plunge into the end zone with 3:25 to play.
"That was big," Madigan said. "They were all big plays. Taylor is just a good football player and team leader. Jordan Neumann played a big game today. I think the offensive line blocked the best we've blocked since I started coaching."
Manistique began its final drive on its own 21. They were at the Norway 34 for what looked to be a final play. Kangas aired one out down the left sideline incomplete, but a flag on the Norway coverage gave the Emeralds a final chance from about the 20. Kangas tried for Potvin, breaking from the middle toward the right corner of the end zone, but the pass just escaped Potvin's reach.
"It's tough," Manistique coach Todd Kangas said. "We had guys going down again, a tailback who only joined us two weeks ago. I thought we did some good things, just wish we would have caught that last one in the end zone."
Kangas to Potvin had proved a golden connection most of the night. Of Kangas' 15 completions, seven went to Potvin for 91 of the team's 158 passing yards. Potvin caught two touchdowns in the first half, scoring on 24- and 16-yard plays.
"That's a good football team right there," Madigan said. "They've played some tough opponents."
A couple of mistakes, which Norway was able to capitalize on, hurt the Emeralds in the beginning of each half.
Manistique fumbled on the game's opening series. Jake Rehn recovered inside the Emerald 40, and Norway struck fast with Bonetti connecting with his brother Garrett for a 26-yard strike to the end zone.
Bonetti threw for 110 yards while running for another 92 in the game.
Manistique answered early in the second with Potvin's first TD grab, but the two-point try failed. Bonetti then led the Knights on a 10-play 77-yard drive for another score. Facing fourth and nine from the Emeralds' 23, Bonetti found Nick Pearman over the middle for the touchdown. Bonetti then hit Zavier Gonzalez for two, making it a two-score game.
Manistique answered before half, with an equally impressive march down the field capped when Kangas pegged Potvin again. A run by Mike Brock made it 16-14 Knights at the half.
A personal foul penalty on the opening kick of the second half set up Norway just inside midfield, and Norway made Manistique pay. Gonzalez busted loose for a 39-yard rush to set up first and goal before Neumann bullied in from five yards out.
After holding Manistique to a four and out on the next drive, Norway added more points. Bonetti had a big run of 21 yards to get the Knights close and then hooked up with Austin Grayvold for a 16-yard touchdown, making it 30-14 Knights.
Manistique fired right back. Mike Brock looked to be stopped short on a fourth and three from the Norway 23, but he popped free from two defenders and dashed into the end zone with 2:10 to go in the third.
Holding the Knights at bay on their next try, Manistique put together another successful drive. Kangas did most of the work with his feet on the march, taking it in himself from the one early in the fourth to make it a four-point game at 30-26.
Manistique was unable to do anything with its first chance to grab a lead, but pinning the Knights deep on the next possession set up the botched punt. Trying to boot it out of their own end zone, the Knights fumbled the snap and Baker was the first one in the pile to recover the ball.
"We haven't been a very good defensive team, but we battled back, took a lead," Kangas said. "We had a chance at the end, so that was good."
Norway improved to 2-2 (1-0 MPC). The Knights host Ishpeming Saturday.
"We'll take 2-2," Madigan said. "We started 0-2 and were having some questions. Now we're getting better, working harder. Things are starting to come together."
Manistique 0 14 6 14 - 34
Norway 8 8 14 6 - 36
N - Garrett Bonetti 26 pass from Taylor Bonetti (T. Bonetti run), 10:14.
M - Cole Potvin 24 pass from Tyler Kangas (pass failed), 9:16.
N - Nick Pearman 23 pass from T. Bonetti (Zavier Gonzalez pass from T. Bonetti), 5:31.
M - Potvin 16 pass from Kangas (Mike Brock run), 1:54.
N - Jordan Neumann 5 run (T. Bonetti run), 11:05.
N - Austin Grayvold 16 pass from T. Bonetti (kick failed), 6:57.
M - Brock 23 run (run failed), 2:10.
M - Kangas 1 run (run failed), 9:56.
M - Tyler Baker fumble recovery (Potvin pass from Kangas), 4:20.
N - T. Bonetti 1 run (run failed), 3:25.
Total yards - Manistique 311 (153 run, 158 pass); Norway 335 (225 run, 110 pass)
Rushing leaders - M: Tyler Kangas 11-58, Mike Brock 9-43; N: Taylor Bonetti 10-92, Zavier Gonzalez 6-65, Jordan Neumann 10-38.
Receiving leaders - M: Cole Potvin 7-91, Travis Bolm 3-36; N: Austin Grayvold 4-61, Garrett Bonetti 1-26, Nick Pearman 1-23.
Passing - M: Kangas 15-23-158-2-0; N: T. Bonetti 6-14-110-2-1.
First downs - M: 18; N: 11.
Int - M: Coby Ryan. Sacks - N: Don Houle. Pen. - M: 3-30; N: 8-70.