Wykons end Joey Pisoni holds on to the ball tightly as he is tackled by a pair of L’Anse defenders after a 26-yard pass play in the second quarter Aug. 30.
L’ANSE—Two turnovers that led to two second quarter touchdowns by two top opposing backs were too much for West Iron’s football team Aug. 30, as the Wykons (1-1, 0-1) lost to L’Anse here 40-20 in their West Pac Conference opener.
Fatal miscues: West Iron held its own early in the game. A shanked punt (10 yards) gave L’Anse the ball at the Wykon 35, but WIC’s defense held its ground.
Two plays into the second quarter, disaster struck. On 2nd and 15 at WIC’s 32, QB Andrew Peterson’s pass was intercepted by Andrew Kemppainen, who ran it back 24 yards to the Wykon 21.
L’Anse seized the opportunity. Gains by Cody Goldsworthy and Jimmy Veker led to QB Jacob Ostermeyer’s seven-yard TD pass to Veker. Veker also ran in the convert. Hornets, 8-0.
On the second play after the kickoff, WIC back Alec Schmelebeck fumbled, and L’Anse’s Keith Denomie fell on it near midfield. Four plays later, Veker scored from the 25, and a pass to Jonny Magaraggia made it 16-0. Two scores in just over two minutes.
Momentum swing: West Iron held L’Anse to 17 yards rushing in the first quarter, Coach Mike Berutti noted later. “We were playing football!
“Then we have two turnovers, they score, and the air went out of our bubble—fast! The turnovers in the first two ballgames have killed us.”
Later in the half, L’Anse scored again on a 50-yard all-running drive capped by Goldsworthy’s five-yard run and Veker’s convert. It was 24-0 with 41 seconds left.
Long enough for a quick Wykon strike. Adam Newby ran for 13, Tyler Stafford gained 15, and Peterson’s 26-yard pass to Joey Pisoni put it at the 7. Peterson hooked up with Brandon Clifford for the TD, and Stafford ran in the convert, making it 24-8 at halftime.
Stinging back: In the third, L’Anse covered 94 yards in 14 plays, Gavin Picciano scoring on a counter play from the 10. Plus two from Veker; 32-8.
Newby led the Wykons’ reply. His 19-yard run and 24-yard catch powered West Iron downfield, and Peterson scored on a keeper from the 1 early in the fourth quarter; 32-14.
WIC’s two-pointer failed, but an onside kick succeeded—Cody Desjardins got it at the L’Anse 47. Four plays later, Peterson passed to Stafford for 32 yards and another score; 32-20.
L’Anse didn’t let West Iron get closer, adding insurance on Kemppainen’s 18-yard TD run with 5:07 left. The Purple Hornets were 5 for 5 on two-pointers.
“Goldsworthy and Veker are studs,” Berutti said later. Goldworthy ran for 135 yards, and Veker added 90. L’Anse outgained the Wykons 290 yards to WIC’s 219, with 284 on the ground to WIC’s 120.
Looking ahead: “We’ve got to get better at blocking, tacking, coaching—every-thing.” West Iron is a young team with a rebuilding front line. Berutti likes how guard Joel Van Lanen and center Max Maloney have improved. “They made their blocks. Big improvements.
“Our pass protection was really good. They got one sack on us, and that was an all-out blitz.”
But, he added, the Wykons can’t let themselves get worn down on defense. On offense, they simply must protect the ball.
“We can’t keep putting our defense out in bad positions.”
Rushing: Adam Newby, 3-34; Tyler Stafford, 5-33; Chasz Jonet, 8-26; Ron Varney, 4-19; Alec Schmelebeck, 3-16. Passing: Andrew Peterson 8-17-102, 2 TDs. Receiving: Stafford, 1-32, TD; Joey Pisoni, 1-28; Brandon Clifford, 1-7, TD; Newby, 1-13; Jonet, 3-13.
Defense: Tackles: Jonet, 9t-2a; Peterson, 7t-1a; Cody Desjardins, 4t-3a; Pisoni, 4t-3a; Bryson Heimerl, 4t-2a.
Coming up: The Wykons host Iron Mountain at Nelson Field Sept. 7.
Wykons 0 8 0 12 -- 20
Hornets 0 24 8 8 -- 40