Hancock, MI – September 13, 2019 – The Negaunee Miners Football team looked to get on the winning side of things for the first time this season as they traveled up to Hancock to take on the Bulldogs! Mark Evans and Gregg Nelson had the coverage of all the hard-hitting action on Marquette County’s Sunny 101.9.
With windy conditions in the air in Hancock, the Miners came out on a mission to run the ball. Negaunee’s running game looked impressive early, where they were gaining good chunks of yards. After getting multiple first downs and a personal foul on Hancock, the Miners were set up in prime position at the Bulldogs’ 11-yard line. They capitalized as quarterback Jason Waterman ran into the end-zone the very next play, and the Miners struck first with a 6-0 lead early in the first quarter after the missed two-point conversion. The Bulldogs started off with bad field possession after a touch-back on the kickoff off of the foot of Negaunee kicker Erik Salminen. Faced with a third down and long, Hancock converted on a 15-yard catch by Connor LeClaire. The very next play however, the Bulldogs fumbled the football, and Negaunee’s Leo Helppi came out of the pile with the ball. After Helppi’s fumble recovery, the Miners started once again with great field position. Negaunee continued to move the ball, as they marched inside the Hancock 20-yard line after a couple of first downs. The Miners would quickly get inside of the Hancock five-yard line, and now they looked to take a two possession lead. On third down, running back Jake Sikora took the option pitch from Waterman and ran it in with ease for the second Negaunee touchdown of the night. Wide receiver Alex Munson caught Waterman’s pass in the back of the end-zone for the two-point conversion, and the Miners took a 14-0 with a mere 13 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
End of 1st: Negaunee Miners 14, Hancock Bulldogs 0
The Bulldogs came back out after the end of the quarter in a big way, as quarterback Colton Salani found wide receiver Mason Mikesch down the sideline for a 46-yard catch down to the Miners’ one-yard line. The Bulldogs took advantage as fullback Cole Stuber punched it in for a Hancock touchdown. After LeClaire’s extra point, the score was now 14-7 in favor of the Miners. Negaunee’s offense continued to click, they were doing a nice job of moving the ball on the Hancock defense. The rushing attack of Waterman, Sikora, and Lukas Nelson continued to perform well, and the Bulldogs didn’t have a solution. After getting down to the one-yard line, Waterman took the quarterback sneak in for his second rushing touchdown of the game, and the Miners led 22-7 after he also picked up the two-point conversion with his legs. The Bulldogs didn’t take long to respond, as LeClaire took the handoff on a reverse play, and took it 59 yards all the way into the end-zone for the touchdown. We all of a sudden had a shootout on our hands, and after the two-point conversion was no good, the Miners led 22-13. As the clock ticked down into the final minutes, Negaunee was trying to convert on one last scoring chance before halftime. With only one minute remaining, Negaunee had the ball at the Hancock 29-yard line, time was not in their favor. However on a fourth down attempt, the Miners had a handoff miscue, and the Bulldogs took over on downs with just six seconds left. Hancock couldn’t convert, and the Miners took their nine point lead into the locker room.
Halftime: Negaunee Miners 22, Hancock Bulldogs 13
The rain picked up at the beginning of the third quarter as the Bulldogs started with the ball first. It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to continue their production, as Austin Salani busted out a 13-yard carry on the first play of the half. After Stuber committed a holding penalty, he responded nicely the next play with a 41-yard carry for Hancock. Faced with fourth down and one yard to go at the Miners’ 33-yard line, Colton Salani converted with a quarterback sneak to keep the drive alive. The Bulldogs were moving down the field at a slow and steady pace, something that isn’t characteristic of them. However, their big plays showed back up as Salani found Mikesch in the corner of the endzone from 16 yards out. The weather elements did not limit Hancock’s passing game in any way, which was unexpected, and the Bulldogs trailed 22-19 after LeClaie’s missed extra point. As Neguanee was forced to punt on its next drive, the quarter came to an end. Negaunee led Hancock 22-19 after three quarters of play.
End of 3rd: Negaunee Miners 22, Hancock Bulldogs 19
The fourth quarter couldn’t have started off any worse for Hancock, as the snap went between Salani’s legs, and the Miners recovered the football at the Bulldogs’ two-yard line. Negaunee didn’t waste any time, as Nelson got into the end-zone to extend their lead to 28-19 early in the final quarter. The Bulldogs were looking to respond on their next offensive possession, and they picked up a huge first down on a pass from Salani. Facing a fourth down at the 22-yard line over the next few plays, the Bulldogs came through, as Colton Salani scrambled and dove for the first down. After Parker Cain made a big play for the Negaunee defense by tackling Salani in the backfield, the Bulldogs decided to kick a 29-yard field goal, and LeClaire missed it wide right. The Miners all of a sudden had complete control of this game, as they had the ball up by nine with under six minutes to go. Negaunee was doing their best to run time off of the clock, as they got first down after first down. The Bulldogs finally forced a punt with a little over two minutes left, and they would start with good field position at their own 40-yard line. Austin Salani caught a pass from his brother, and took it down the sideline to the Negaunee 29-yard line, they still had a shot. The Miners made some nice defensive plays, and once again forced a fourth down, a down in which Hancock converted three previous times in the second half. The Bulldogs couldn’t convert this time around, and the Miners took over on downs, this one was all but final. After a couple of kneel downs, the Negaunee Miners picked up its first win of the young season by a 28-19 score over the Hancock Bulldogs.
Final Score: Negaunee Miners 28, Hancock Bulldogs 19
NEXT GAME: The Negaunee Miners Football team’s next game will be next Friday, Sept. 20, where they travel to Manistique to take on the Emeralds! Mark Evans and Gregg Nelson will have all of the coverage on Sunny 101.9, with the pregame show beginning right around 6:30 p.m., and the game to follow at 7 p.m.