First-half lead fades for Norway in 24-14 setback
NORWAY — On a cool and windy evening at Ronberg Field in Norway, the Ishpeming Hematites, ranked third in Division 8 in the season’s first state Associated Press poll, came to town. Trailing the host Knights 14-8 at the half, Ishpeming came away with a 24-14 win, to move to 3-0 on the season.
Norway, now 1-2, was able to move the ball with its passing game. However, the Hematites’ size and strength on the offensive and defensive lines was too much for the Knights to overcome. Norway’s running game was limited to 102 total yards on 23 carries.
“Our defense was great tonight. They (Norway) nicked us with their passing game in the first half, so we made some adjustments and were able to force them to have to pass in the second half, once we got the lead, because we played so well up front” said first year Ishpeming head coach George Niemi.
“That’s a kid that’s hard to tackle, third and short, or fourth and one, he’s getting the ball” said Niemi in regards to running back Otto Swanson. The big senior paced the Hematites with 159 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. All together, Ispheming amassed 286 rushing yards on 50 carries. “Our offensive line and our running game, are the main reason we’re 3-0” Niemi added.
After a nine-play drive, that took 4:09 off the clock to start the second half, Ishpeming running back Tommy Sjoholm, who rushed for 102 yards on 25 carries on the night, scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 14-14. A successful Sjoholm 2-point conversion run put the Hematites ahead 16-14, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Norway head coach Scott Popp, in his first year at the helm like Niemi, noted the enthusiasm and fire his team had in the first half, seemed to dissipate as the game wore on.
“They wore us down, they found what was working and ran it(the same plays) over and over,” he said. “Their size upfront on offense, and their 230 pound running back. That was the major difference in the game.
“We played our best first half of the season thus far tonight. We couldn’t continue it for the whole game. (Nathan) Paulitch threw the ball well tonight, we simply couldn’t get our running game going.”
Offensively, Norway was limited to 203 total yards. 102 on the ground, and 101 through the air. Quarterback Nathan Paulitch, who rushed for a team high 53 yards on 10 carries, was 6 of 13 for 101 yards and two touchdowns in the passing department. Zachary Seat caught a 29-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter, while tight end Cody Hendricks added a second quarter touchdown of his own, on a 14-yard strike from Paulitch.
The Knights make the short trip to Iron Mountain next week, to take on their long time rival for a West PAC crossover game. While Ishpeming hosts cross town rival Westwood, which is also a crossover West PAC conference game.
ISHPEMING — 8 0 16 0 — 24
NORWAY — 0 14 0 0 –14
FIRST QUARTER: ISH Otto Swanson 1yard run (John Corkin Run) 0:09.
SECOND QUARTER: N Zachary Seat 29 yard Pass from Nathan Paulitch (Paulitch Kick) 9:23.
N Cody Hendricks 14 yard Pass from Paulitch (Paulitch Kick) 2:29.
THIRD QUARTER: ISH Tommy Sjoholm 4 Yard Run (Sjoholm Run) 7:51.
ISH Swanson 11 Yard Run (Sjoholm Run) 2:44.