KINGSFORD - The Kingsford Flivvers, despite a stiff challenge from Travis Heller-led Escanaba, will take a three-game winning streak into the postseason.
Tyler Roberts' third touchdown was the difference as Kingsford held off the Eskymos 28-21 in Great Northern Conference football at Flivver Field.
The Flivvers (7-2 overall, 2-2 GNC) will await word Sunday on their playoff destination.
Theresa Proudfit/The Daily News Photo
Kingsford’s Brody Sundquist (25) pulls away from Escanaba’s Stephen Wood (33) in Friday’s Great Northern Conference football game at Flivver Field.
"That's nice," Kingsford Coach Chris Hofer said of taking a winning streak into the state playoffs. "We hung tough. It's good to play these kind of games."
Escanaba, down 14-0 at halftime, got going behind Heller. The senior quarterback rushed for 114 yards, passed for 90 and figured in three scores.
"It was a great U.P. football game with two good football teams," Escanaba Coach Jim Hansen said. "We had some good back-and-forth battles. They would get some good things going and we would get some good things going.
"In the end they made a couple more plays than we did. Give them credit. We ran out of time."
Flivver quarterback Joe Hofer threw touchdown passes to Roberts and Daniel Harrington, and nearly had another. Brody Sundquist and Roberts fueled a tough ground game.
"I like some of things we did on offense," Hofer said. "Our offense got pushed a little bit. When we had to do some things we did them."
Four minutes into the second quarter, Hofer flipped a six-yard pass to Roberts in the end zone for a score. The ball popped out quickly and Hansen disputed the call.
"The referee and I had a discussion," said the Eskymos coach. "He's right on the line with a view of it and I'm in the back with a view. He said he saw two feet down and the ball in.
"But what are you going to do? It happens. That's just a disagreement between he and I."
Kingsford may have been denied a score to close out the first half when Harrington snared a 22-yard, fourth-down pass from Hofer in the end zone. The junior end, needing just one foot in, was ruled out of the endzone.
The Flivvers held a 14-0 halftime lead on Roberts blasting through the middle and moving to the right for a 27-yard score.
Escanaba wasted little time in the second half turning things around. Heller, faced with fourth down and six from the Flivver 40, went to paydirt on the first series of the third quarter. A missed extra-point left the difference 14-6.
Kingsford answered with Hofer and Harrington clicking on a 47-yard touchdown strike. Harrington picked off a pass on the next series but the Flivvers failed to take advantage.
In the fourth quarter, Heller tossed a 58-yard touchdown pass to Trevan Wendrick. Heller, running from a power formation, blasted in for two points and a 21-14 spread.
"Defensively, we gave up some plays and we can't do that," Hofer said of the second half. "We played really good in the first half. We had our chances to make it 21-0 and that game's over."
James McNeil recovered a Flivver fumble at the 15 to end one threat. But Kingsford came back with Roberts crashing two yards for a touchdown and 28-14 cushion at 2:53. Tyler Waisanen kicked four Flivver extra points.
But Heller wasn't quite done. His 17-yard pass to James McNeil at the Flivv 28 plus a personal foul set up Heller for a three-yard touchdown run with 1:54 remaining in the game.
"They got number 20 (Heller) going and didn't have a lot of answers," Hofer said.
Escanaba finished with 234 yards total offense - 42 in the first half.
"We talked about their defensive schemes and what to do to loosen them up a little bit and get some of those running lanes open," Hansen said. "We thought we improved as the night went on offensively and defensively."
Escanaba wraps up the season at 3-6 overall and 2-2 GNC.
"I'm really proud of our kids," Hansen said. "They fought their butts off tonight."
Kingsford produced 305 yards in offense. Hofer completed four of six passes for 86 yards. Sundquist rushed for 97 yards on 24 carries and Roberts added 90 on 16.
Escanaba 0 0 6 15 - 21
Kingsford 0 14 7 7 - 28
K - Tyler Roberts 6 pass from Joe Hofer (Tyler Waisanen kick), 7:50.
K - Roberts 27 run (Waisanen kick), 5:29.
E - Travis Heller 40 run (kick failed), 8:40.
K - Daniel Harrington 47 pass from Hofer (Waisanen kick), 3:47.
E - Trevan Wendrick 58 pass from Heller (Heller run), 9:24.
K - Roberts 2 run (Waisanen kick), 2:53.
E - Heller 3 run (TJ Myrick kick), 1:54.
Total offense - Kingsford 305 (219 rushing, 86 passing), Escanaba 234 (144 rushing, 90 passing).
Rushing - Kingsford, Hofer 4-minus 11, Sundquist 24-97, Patterson 7-49, Roberts 16-90, Allen 1-6, Schaut 1-6; Escanaba, Heller 23-114, Wendrick 3-minus 2, Bissell 8-24, Walker 4-6, Lemire 1-8.
Passing - K, Hofer 4-6-0, 86; E, Heller 6-18-0, 90.
Receiving - K, Roberts 1-6, Tengesdahl 1-5, Harrington 1-47, Stanchina 1-28; E, Bissell 1-15, Wendrick 3-59, McNeil 2-26.
First downs - Kingsford 14, Escanaba 14.
Penalties - Kingsford 2-19, Escanaba 0-0.