By BURT ANGELI
FELCH - Tim Hruska is back.
Hruska, a senior running back who sat out the last month with ankle problems, triggered North Dickinson past Pickford 41-22 in a Division 8 football pre-district Friday at James D. Priestap Memorial Field.
Hruska rushed for 144 yards on 10 carries, including two scoring sprints of 56 and 57 yards.
"I thought he had a real nice game," said Nordics coach Joe Reddinger, noting the U.P. track champion is not yet at full strength. "I'm real happy for him because he's had his dauber down for the last four or five weeks.
"He really wanted to be on that field. That senior season means so much to the kids."
North Dickinson (7-2) and North Central (8-2), which defeated Munising in another pre-district, will clash here at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, for the district title.
Matt Schultz tallied three touchdowns for the Nordics, who trailed 22-12 in the second quarter before solving Pickford's option attack.
"We made a couple adjustments inside to shore things up," said Reddinger, who credited defensive coordinator Chris Mattson. "We got some people up on the perimeter a little bit to contain the quarterback.
"Chris made the adjustments and they worked. That's what defensive coordinators are for."
Pickford, with quarterback Jared Hatfield proving deceptive, chalked up 211 yards in the first half. That number dropped to 41 in the second half.
Reddinger noted Jared Wagner (6-1, 300) plugged up the interior.
"Jared Wagner had a nice game on defense," Reddinger said of the junior. "We needed somebody to clog the middle and sometimes you can't even double team him.
"Jared hasn't played much this year but he really rose to the occasion."
Pickford scored on its first three possessions for a 22-12 advantage with 4:29 left in the second quarter. The Panthers failed on their next five.
For North Dickinson, Schultz plowed four yards to cut Pickford's lead to 8-6 in the first quarter.
After Pickford (6-4) moved ahead 14-6, Hruska cut sharply and bolted 56 yards for a second-quarter score. The Panthers stopped the conversion and owned a 14-12 lead.
With Pickford leading 22-12, Noah Berg nearly went to his knees to snare the kick-off. The sophomore then rambled 67 yards down the sideline to the endzone. Schultz ran for the two-point conversion.
North Dickinson ruled the second half. Hruska put the Nordics on top 28-22 by racing 57 yards with 10:59 showing in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, after a holding penalty nullified a short Hruska scoring run, quarterback Logan O'Neil flipped a 15-yard touchdown pass to Schultz for a 34-22 spread.
A Berg interception snuffed a Pickford comeback with six minutes left. Nordics responded with Schultz plunging over from the one.
North Dickinson collected 289 yards total offense, with Schultz providing 83 on the ground in 14 attempts.
Pickford 8 14 0 0 - 22
North Dickinson 6 14 8 13 - 41
P - Jared Hatfield 1 run (Elijah May run), 9:48.
ND - Matt Schultz 4 run (pass failed), 4:04.
P - Travis Reich 9 run (kick failed), 11:46.
ND - Tim Hruska 56 run (run failed), 10:47.
P - May 5 run (May run), 4:29.
ND - Noah Berg 67 kick return (Schultz run), 4:17.
ND - Hruska 57 run (Logan O'Neil run), 10:59.
ND - Schultz 15 pass from O'Neil (run failed), 7:57.
ND - Schultz 1 run (O'Neil kick), 4:08.
Total offense - North Dickinson 289 (267 rushing, 22 passing), Pickford 256 (244 rushing, 12 passing).
Rushing - ND, Schultz 14-83, Hruska 10-144, O'Neil 5-25, Wagner 8-15; Pickford, Hatfield 17-87, Reich 16-92.
First downs - ND 12, Pickford 11.
Passing - ND, O'Neil 2-2-0, 22; Pickford, Hatfield 1-4-0, 12.
Pass interceptions - ND, Berg.
Penalties - ND 6-45; P 5-35.