HOUGHTON – It has been said that football is a game of inches. That was certainly the case Friday night in Houghton as the Gremlins held the Westwood Patriots out of the end zone twice on two-point conversion attempts without much room to spare. That led to a 14-12 opening night victory for the 2022 Houghton football team.
While it wasn’t the prettiest of football games, according to Houghton coach Micah Stipech, he’s not complaining.
“Last year, they (Westwood) beat us by almost 50 points (54-6)” he explained. “So I was pleased. It’s been ugly at times, but I’m not taking it back. It was a 12-round fight and it was won by decision.”
Westwood beat Houghton in several key categories, regardless of the results in the table. Among them are total offenses, 187-153 meters; number of games, 43-20; rushing efforts, 39-15; and time of possession, 28:03 to 19:52. However, these categories do not win games. What makes games winning are successful drives into the end zone, starting with the Gremlins’ first offensive play of the season.
That’s when senior quarterback Camden Markham took a quick snap, pulled back and launched a beautiful pass to receiver Gaborik Carlson, who took it to the house for a 63-yard touchdown. Markham would sneak in for the two-point conversion and it was an 8-0 game with just 14 seconds left on the clock.
“We threw that passing game in preparation for this game and had been practicing it all week. So it was a real shot in the arm for it to work.” Stipech stated.
Next, it was Westwood’s turn with the ball. However, even after a long and methodical drive down the field that spanned eight minutes, it was smothered by an interception by the Gremlins’ Kyle Primeau to end the first quarter.
“That first quarter was tough,” noted Westwood coach Jacob Wolf. “We came out after the eighth ball and got timid and couldn’t dig ourselves out despite a better second half.”
As the first quarter turned into the second, Markham was back in the end zone on a quarterback run at the 8:56 mark. The two-point conversion was no good.
Westwood finally got on the scoreboard with less than a minute left in the first half. Running back Jerzee Karki took it on a three-yard run. However, his two-point conversion run fell short. It was a Gremlins lead of 14-6 as the two teams broke for the lockers.
After scoring a second touchdown, Westwood had a chance to tie it late in the third, but a failed two-point conversion made the difference and the game remained in the Gremlins’ 14-12 lead.
“Offensively, we showed we could hit fast and be powerful. Stipech added. “Our passing game was 5-5 for over 90 yards and that’s pretty good on an opening night.
Stipech also praised Primeau’s return versatility. The junior only had six carries, but he averaged nine yards a carry. In comparison, his Westwood counterpart Karki had 16 carries for 55 yards. That averaged out to just 3.4 yards a carry.
“Westwood has been a heavy hitter in our conference.” Stipech added. “So to win a game like this says a lot about our kids’ preparation and work over the summer. Without that, there’s no way they can go head-to-head in the final minutes of a game like this. So I’m proud of our efforts.”
The Gremlins are on the road this week as they take on the L’Anse Purple Hornets on Thursday, September 1st. The start is scheduled for 19:00