2017-10-19 / Sports

Late Drive Stalls as Saints Fall in Close Game to Ishpeming Hematites, 20-14

By Kevin R. Hess

Saints quarterback Tucker Shepard (#7) prepares to take the snap from center Trevor Matson (#63) Friday, October 13, against Ishpeming. David VanHeuvelen (left, #52) and Reid Marshall (right, #50), await the snap. Saints quarterback Tucker Shepard (#7) prepares to take the snap from center Trevor Matson (#63) Friday, October 13, against Ishpeming. David VanHeuvelen (left, #52) and Reid Marshall (right, #50), await the snap. A tough season continued for the St. Ignace Saints as they fell to 1-7 after a 20-14 defeat to the Ishpeming Hematites Friday, October 13. Both teams have a recent history of success, as each has been a mainstay in the postseason for several years. Ishpeming has advanced to the title game, winning multiple state titles. This year, both teams find themselves in unfamiliar territory, on the outside of the playoffs and with losing records. The Hematites came into the game with just two wins, and the Saints entered with one. One thing each team hasn’t lost is its pride, evident as the two went head to head in a tough game reminiscent of recent battles between the teams when each was eyeing a deep postseason run.

The first quarter ended in a scoreless tie, as each team exchanged punts and turned the ball over on downs. The Saints were able to strike first midway through the second quarter, as freshman Garett Rickley broke free for a 34-yard touchdown run to give the Saints a 6-0 lead. Ishpeming answered with a long drive of their own, culminating in a touchdown run with just :07 left in the first half. The successful two-point conversion gave the Hematites an 8-6 halftime lead.

The third quarter featured many big plays, but neither team could gain momentum or capitalize on mistakes. Ishpeming fumbled, followed by a 16-yard run by Shawn Livingston and a big pass to Andy Metz, but the Saints eventually punted. After an Ishpeming punt, the Saints had a punt blocked late in the third quarter that eventually led to a 17- yard touchdown run by the Hematites to give them a 14-6 lead. The run came after St. Ignace forced Ishpeming into a fourth down and 13, but were unable to keep them out of the end zone. After the Saints turned the ball over on downs, Ishpeming scored from 49 yards out, again on fourth down, to extend their lead to 20-6 with 5:58 left in the game.

Despite the struggles this season for the Saints, they have not quit. This game was no exception. After completing just one of his first 10 passes, Saints quarterback Tucker Shepard completed four of his next six for 58 yards, capped off by a 15- yard touchdown pass to Metz. A successful two point conversion cut the Hematites lead to six, 20-14.

The Saints then attempted on an onside kick and recovered the ball, but the play was nullified by an offside penalty. St. Ignace then kicked it deep, hoping its defense could hold and get the ball back. The defense stood tall and forced a fumble, recovering it at the Ishpeming 35-yard line with 3:21 left to play. The Saints could not capitalize, however, and turned the ball over on downs, aided by a delay of game penalty that forced St. Ignace to go 10 yards instead of five for the first down. Ishpeming was able to run out the remainder of the clock and secure the 20-14 victory.

A wet and windy night made it hard to move the ball through the air. Shepard finished the game 5-18 for 87 yards and one touchdown. Metz caught three balls for 74 yards and a touchdown. Rickley led the charge on the ground, rushing for 108 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries. As a team, the Saints accumulated 154 yards rushing on 25 carries.

The Saints will (1-7) finish the season at undefeated Newberry (8- 0), Friday, October 20. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Saints Offensive Statistics:

Passing: Tucker Shepard – 5-18, 87 yards, touchdown

Rushing: Garett Rickley – 11 carries, 108 yards, TD; Mason Gustafson – 5 carried, 10 yards; Shepard – 5 carries, 13 yards; Shawn Livingston – 4 carries, 23 yards; Team – 25 carries, 154 yards, TD

Receiving: Andy Metz – 3 receptions, 74 yards, TD; Livingston – 1 reception, 8 yards; Gustafson – 1 reception, 5 yards; Team – 5 receptions, 87 yards, TD

Defensive Statistics:

Mason Gustafson – 22 tackles, 1 fumble recovery; Andy Metz – 16 tackles; Garett Rickley – 12 tackles, 1 forced fumble; David VanHeuvelen – 10 tackles, 1 fumble recovery; Trevor Soblaskey – 7 tackles, 1 forced fumble; Reid Marshall – 8 tackles; Tucker Shepard – 7 tackles

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