Running the football against Ishpeming’s defense proved difficult for Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday as they dropped an 8-7 decision to the Hematites in a Division 7 state semifinal contest.
The Pirates collected 205 yards in total offense, but just 39 on the ground in their first appearance at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome.
Ishpeming, which improved to 12-1, advanced to the state finals at Ford Field in Detroit where it will face Detroit Loyola (13-0) at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The Pirates (9-4) kept the ball for nearly 11 minutes on their opening drive, marching 74 yards to the Ishpeming 1-yard line.
But Ishpeming’s defense stiffened, forcing the Pirates to come up empty on a fourth-and-goal situation.
“We did everything right except punch it (the ball) in the end zone,” Pirates coach Brad Weber said. “That was little bit of a letdown because we had them on the ropes. We have to credit their defense because they made they plays when they had to.”
The Hematites marched on their opening possession, reaching the P-W 6 before the Pirates stopped them on fourth down.
On the next play, junior quarterback Kyle Nurenberg fired a pass which deflected off Ishpeming’s Tyrus Millimaki and into the hands of 6-foot-6 junior wide receiver Lane Simon for a 94-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The Pirates maintained their lead until late in the third quarter when Ishpeming pulled within 7-6 on a 10-yard run around the left side by senior Eric Kostreva. Junior Alex Briones then ran for the two-point conversion and the Hematites led 8-7.
“I’ve always said you win with good kids,” Ishpeming coach Jeff Olson said. “I didn’t see any of our guys with his head down after they scored. Our kids knew they had to compete for 48 minutes, and we always had 11 on the field working together.”
The Pirates threatened again, reaching the Ishpeming 6 yard-line with five minutes left in the contest. That threat, however, ended moments later on an interception by Briones.
P-W, which continued to have difficulty running the ball, still had two more chances. Only the Pirates came up empty on both possessions.
Nurenberg was 6-of-15 passing for 166 yards, with all his completions going to Simon.
“Our quarterback did a great job scrambling,” said Weber. “Also, our defense played well all year and it was no different today. As it turned out, they made one more play than we did. We’re extremely proud of the way our kids played this year. We played some tough teams this season.”
Ishpeming rushed for 159 of its 198 yards, led by Kostreva who ran 21 times for 93.
Senior Jered Myszak led the Pirates in rushing with 26 yards in 10 attempts.