Iron Mountain nips Miners 14-12 in grid opener
IRON MOUNTAIN — Despite trailing 6-0 at the half, Iron Mountain’s two third-quarter touchdowns were enough as the Mountaineers slipped past Negaunee 14-12 in a West PAC Conference season opener Thursday night at Mountaineer Stadium.
The Mountaineers first points of the game and the 2021 season came on their first drive of the second half. Junior quarterback Joe Colavecchi hit sophomore Luke Wolfe in stride for a 64-yard touchdown strike. Bradon Farragh added a successful extra point to give the host Mountaineers a 7-6 lead early in the third stanza.
After a three and out from the Miners’ offense and a short punt, Iron Mountain capitalized on a short field, beginning a drive on the Miners’ 46. Three plays later, Colavecchi scampered 39 yards to the end zone for another Mountaineers touchdown.
Farragh kicked the extra point to give the Mountaineers a 14-6 lead.
“The two extra points we made tonight ended up being the difference on the scoreboard,” said veteran Iron Mountain head coach Robin Marttila. “Tonight was a great football game, the kids fought to the end and didn’t quit.
“Both teams played as hard as they possibly could for the entire game, which is tough for a week one game,” Marttila added. “Negaunee is a great team, and we’re happy to get this win.”
The game began with the visiting Miners receiving the opening kickoff at the 20 after a Mountaineers touchback. At that point, Negaunee put together a methodical 18-play, 80-yard, 10:40 scoring drive, which was capped off by a 7-yard run by Easton Palomaki.
Negaunee went for it on fourth down three times in their impressive time-consuming opening drive and were successful on all three occasions. The rest of the first half was a defensive stalemate, with the Miners taking their six-point lead into the intermission.
“That was fun. We really executed well,” said Negaunee head coach Paul Jacobson. “Sometimes a team’s best defense is a good offense, keeping the other team’s offense off the field. I was very happy with the way we started the game.”
“We had a couple of opportunities to get off the field during that drive, but they made the plays they needed to make to keep it going,” Marttila added.
There were a handful of notable things that occurred during the final quarter.
On their second scoring drive of the game, Negaunee faced a third-and-34 from their own 34. They managed to get 35 yards in two plays — off of a 25-yard run by Palomaki and a 10-yard sideline pass and catch from quarterback Gerald Johnson to Phillip Nelson.
After the Miners scored, the Mountaineers were flagged for pass interference on the 2-point conversion attempt, giving the Miners another 2-point chance. On that second try, the Iron Mountain defense stopped Palomaki’s attempt to score to keep the Miners from tying the game.
On the Mountaineers’ ensuing drive, on first down from their own 20, Farragh fumbled the exchange from Colavecchi. Negaunee defensive lineman Bode Bonovetz recovered, giving the Miners great field position.
In five plays after the fumble recovery, the Miners only managed to gain 11 yards from scrimmage.
On fourth and goal from the 9, the Miners lined up for a 26-yard field goal attempt. The Mountaineers’ Luke Decker found a seam in the left side of the Miners line and blocked it.
“That was huge for us. Luke made a great play, giving us the ball back,” Marttila stated.
The Mountaineers were able to get two first downs and run the clock out to seal the win.
“Bradon Farragh was our workhorse in the second half. Getting tough yards when we needed them,” Marttila said.
“Iron Mountain is a great football team. Anyone playing them can’t make mistakes or have miscues, because they capitalize on them,” said Jacobson. “I’ve been a part of many games inside these yellow walls, both as a player and a coach. I have a lot of respect for Iron Mountain and their program. It always seems to end up being a great game.”
Both teams return to action on Thursday, as the Mountaineers (1-0, 1-0) host West PAC Conference foe Westwood. The Miners (0-1, 0-1) return home to host West PAC opponent Calumet.
Negaunee 6 0 0 6 — 12
Iron Mtn 0 0 14 0 — 14
N – Easton Palomaki 7 yard Run, (Kick failed) 1:20
IM- Luke Wolfe 64 yard Pass from Joe Colavecchi, (Bradon Farragh kick) 10:36
IM – Joe Colavecchi 39 yard run, (Farragh kick) 6:42
N- Nico Lukkarinen 29 yard Run, (Run Failed), 9:54
Total Yards: IM- 225, 149 rushing, 76 passing; Negaunee- 205, 135 rushing, 74 passing
First Downs: N-8; IM-4
Penalties: N: 2-25 yards; IM: 4-25 yards
IM: Rushing- Farragh, 14-85; Richtig, 8-19, J. Colavecchi, 5-48; Wolfe, 1-minus 3.
Passing: J. Colavecchi: 2-2, 74 yards, TD
Receiving: Richtig, 1-12; Wolfe, 1-64, TD.
IM-Tackles: Fortner-14, Talerico-9, Farragh-9, Maxon-6, Verrette-5, Jayne-4