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Calumet flattened Iron Mountain to seize control atop the West PAC.
The Copper Kings (6-0) took advantage of the Mountaineers’ mistakes in a 24-0 win and qualified for the playoffs.
“Just coming off the field here, we gotta tip the hats off to our defense,” Calumet head coach John Croze said. “They fly to the ball and make it tough for teams to continue drives. We had our backs to the wall at a couple different points in that game and just kept responding. Not letting Iron Mountain score with the athletes they have on the field is a testament of the guys up front that do the job for us and control the line of scrimmage.”
Iron Mountain (4-2) had four penalties for 20 yards. The Mountaineers also coughed up a safety, two interceptions and two fumbles.
“It was a tough night for us,” Iron Mountain head coach Robin Marttila said. “We didn’t play our best, there’s no doubt about it. We made some mistakes. That led to points for Calumet.”
Calumet, ranked No. 1 in the Large Division of the UP Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association poll, generated 262 yards of offense including 228 rushing and 34 passing. Running back Travis Ojala had 168 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries.
Quarterback Brent Loukus rushed for 31 yards on eight carries. He completed 3 of 10 passes for 18 yards.
Brandon Antilla caught two passes for 29 yards with a touchdown.
Iron Mountain had 143 offensive yards including 102 rushing and 41 passing. Quarterback Marcus Johnson rushed for 61 yards on 13 carries. He completed 7 of 16 passes for 41 yards.
Up until the safety with 5:31 in the first quarter, both teams punted on the first two drives. Calumet turned the ball over on downs.
With the ball at the Iron Mountain 11 on a second-and-14, a snap bounced past Mountaineers quarterback Marcus Johnson, who scooped the ball in the end zone and was immediately met by multiple Copper Kings defenders.
Iron Mountain kicked the ball back to Calumet, who scored 18 seconds later on a 13-yard run by Ojala.
The Mountaineers never found a rhythm on offense.
Iron Mountain’s next drive ended on a fumble. Calumet turned the ball over on downs.
Iron Mountain turned the ball over on the next drive with an interception by Matt Ojala, ultimately setting up another Calumet score.
With a second remaining in the half, the Copper Kings lined up for a field goal. The snap was high on holder Scott Loukus, who reached up for the ball, scrambled left and right before finding Antilla wide open on the goal line on the left side. The Copper Kings added a two-point conversion to take a 16-0 halftime lead.
“The pass before the half, on the interception, was a horrendous call on my part. Put that in the paper. That was a horrendous call,” Marttila said. “It’s just not a good call, simple as that. That led to a field goal attempt where they got a broken play and got a score off it. That was a big part of the game.”
Croze said the key for Calumet was keeping Iron Mountain’s offense off the field.
“Once again it’s up to those guys up front. We controlled the line of scrimmage,” Croze said. “Our two running backs are like sledgehammers when they hit the hole. They did such a great job. A lot of first downs and a lot of yards. That was part of keeping their offense out of the end zone was keeping them off the field.”
Calumet’s best drive on defense came at the start of the second half as Iron Mountain received the ball and methodically drove down the field. The drive took about six and a half minutes and ended on an incomplete pass from the Calumet 10 on a fourth-and-6.
Iron Mountain running back, kicker and defensive back Caleb Evosevich-Hynes left the game early in the first quarter with a possible broken hand. His absence on the field changed the complexion of Iron Mountain’s offense.
“Caleb was one of our playmakers and he went down,” Marttila said. “We were sort of scrambling from there. That’s on me too. It’s a domino effect. We couldn’t sustain anything offensively. We played decent on defense. We just gave them a short field a couple times and made mistakes.”
Croze said while the Copper Kings were buzzing after the game about making the playoffs, there’s still work left.
“We gotta take it one at a time,” he said. “I know once we get into the playoffs we have some stiff competition when you start looking at all the teams throughout the state that are in Division 6. Westwood’s looming right now and we had one heck of a game with them earlier in the year.”
For the Mountaineers, they must win at least two of the final three games to qualify for the playoffs. They have Hancock next week before hosting L’Anse and visiting Gogebic.
“We want to get to win No. 5 next week up in Hancock,” Marttila said. “There’s still a lot of football left to go and we’ll get back to work. The goal is to go up to Hancock to get a win.”
Calumet’s Matt Ojala was ejected with about nine minutes left in the third quarter for targeting.
Calumet hosts Houghton next week while Iron Mountain visits Hancock.
Calumet 0 16 0 8 — 24
Iron Mountain 0 0 0 0 — 0
C — Safety, 5:31
C — T. Ojala 13 run (2-pt failed), 5:13
C — Antilla 15 pass from S. Loukus (2-pt conversion), 0:01
C — T. Ojala 9 run (2-pt conversion), 11:06
RUSHING (att-yds.-TDs) — Iron Mountain: Johnson 13-61, Pietrantonio 3-17, Barazza 3-10, Herrick 4-6, Evosevich-Hynes 1-4, Gerhard 2-4. Calumet: T. Ojala 29-168-2, B. Loukus 8-31, Hendrickson 5-8, Erkkila 2-3.
PASSING (att.-comp.-TDs-INTs) — Iron Mountain: Johnson 7-16-0-2. Calumet: B. Loukus 3-10-0-0, S. Loukus 1-1-1-0
RECEIVING (catch-yds-TDs) — Iron Mountain: Pietrantonio 4-23, Gerhard 3-14, Feira 1-4. Calumet: Antilla 2-29-1, M. Ojala 1-3, T. Ojala 1-1