Football: Rudyard outlasts Nordics in opener

North Dickinson quarterback Brennan Donaldson, right, runs as Rudyard’s Blake Friisvall, left, tries to make a tackle on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, in Felch, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

FELCH — It took a while for Rudyard’s experience to make an impact, but once it did, it was enough to pull away from North Dickinson in a season-opening 46-12 win on Thursday.

The Nordics (0-1) hung within a score until Rudyard quarterback Dylan Mills threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Blake Friisvall late in the first half.

Rudyard (1-0) outscored North Dickinson 22-0 in the second half as the Bulldogs gradually wore down the Nordics, starting at the line of scrimmage.

“They were so big and so strong they just wore us down. Getting into the fourth quarter even, we just had nothing left,” North Dickinson head coach Mike Christian said. “They made a good change though. They had two real big kids playing as ends. They put them over my guards and they just wore my guards out and I couldn’t pull them. It was a very good change on his part.”

The Bulldogs (1-0), composed of nine experienced seniors, took a while to overcome the three and a half hour bus ride.

“We started a little slow. That’s partially due to the long bus ride I think. And first game of the season — a little jitters there at the beginning,” Rudyard head coach Steve Sawyer said. “They reacted well to what they did. They did what most teams do against a wing, guard-pulling offense. Guys picked it up in the second half and held them where they were in the first half and rolled.”

The Nordics held strong in the first half, dodging early blows and staying within a score despite failing to convert an earlier fourth-and-short.

Down 8-0 North Dickinson’s Cameron Schultz made an interception in the Nordics’ end zone with 1:01 left in the first quarter.

North Dickinson took possession at its own 11 and began a lengthy drive before being stopped on another fourth-and-short.

Rudyard got the ball back at its own 23 — the Bulldogs’ first possession of the second quarter with 7:01 remaining.

The Bulldogs were stopped on a fourth-and-9 at their own 46.

North Dickinson took advantage of the momentum shift and scored on a 16-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Brennan Donaldson to freshman Maximus Mattson. The Nordics were stopped on the two-point conversion.

Mills scored on the Bulldogs’ first play on the ensuing drive, a 63-yard run.

North Dickinson answered right back with a 72-yard pass to Cameron Schultz with 58.2 seconds left in the first half.

But Mills came up big again for the Bulldogs with a 63-yard pass to Friisvall, giving Rudyard a 24-12 halftime lead.

The Nordics had 211 total yards of offense, including 85 rushing and 126 passing. North Dickinson threw for just six yards in the second half as Donaldson found less and less time to throw from the pocket.

Donaldson led the Nordics with 67 rushing yards on 18 carries.

Nordics senior Matthew Bruette left the game in the fourth quarter with a cramp. He had three catches for 25 yards along with a team-high 13 tackles.

North Dickinson travels to Ontonagon next week, while Rudyard hosts Brimley.

Rudyard 8 16 8 14 — 46

N Dickinson 0 12 0 0 — 12

First Quarter

R — Dylan Threlfall, 21-yard pass from Dylan Mills (2-pt conversion), 8:12

Second Quarter

ND — Maximus Mattson, 16-yard pass from Brennan Donaldson (2-pt failed), 2:16

R — Mills, 63-yard run (2-pt conversion), 1:17

ND — Cameron Schultz, 72-yard pass from Donaldson (2-pt failed), 0:58

R — Blake Friisvall, 63-yard pass from Mills (2-pt conversion), 0:27

Third Quarter

R — Mills, 10-yard run (2-pt conversion), 7:05

Fourth Quarter

R — Mills, 3-yard run (2-pt failed), 11:08

R — Friisvall, 26-yard run (2-pt failed), 4:30