• HS Boys Basketball 1/17: North Central 70, Rapid RIver 44
  • HS Boys Basketball 1/17: Bark River-Harris 57, Forest Park 54 (2OT)
  • HS Boys Basketball 1/17: Munising 72, Carney-Nadeau 41
  • HS Boys Basketball 1/17: Negaunee 43, Hancock 24
  • HS Boys Basketball 1/17: Norway 66, North Dickinson 19
  • HS Girls Basketball 1/17: Westwood 70, Iron Mountain 38
  • HS GIrls Basketball 1/17: Escanaba 64, Menominee 54
  • HS Girls Basketball 1/17: Ishpeming 53, West Iron County 42
4828 articles
Wednesday January 19, 2022
ONE POINT AGAIN: Braves Lose To Devils, 15-14

Click the thumbnails above to see photos and videos, and click AUDIO buttons to listen to radio calls of both Gladstone touchdowns. Also click to hear post-game comments from Coach Jeff Hansen, and player spotlight interviews with Nate Young and Elliot Vitito.

The Gladstone High School football team lost by one point for the third time this season Friday night, falling to the Sault Ste. Marie Blue Devils, 15-14, at the Marble Athletic Field. Cole Hawker kicked three field goals, including the game-winner with 31.1 seconds left, and the Braves threw two interceptions in the red zone to stop scoring drives.

The Blue Devils were methodical on offense, grinding out small chunks of yardage that added up into time-consuming drives. The biggest two drives came in the second half after the Braves rallied from a 6-0 halftime deficit to score two touchdowns and grab a 14-6 lead.

Gladstone took the second half kickoff and drove 67 yards in five plays. Nate Young passed to Cole Potier out of the backfield for a 37-yard gain on the first play, and eventually threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Caden Downey on third and four. S

enior Cam Kelly, who has been out for a month with a broken collarbone, tried the extra point kick but he pushed it just to the right.

So, it stayed tied at 6-6.

When the Blue Devils got the ball back, they rolled the dice on 4th and 1 from their own 34-yard-line. The Braves stuffed the run by Ryan Laplaunt.

Gladstone had 4th and 6 from the Soo 30 when the Braves were called for two straight false start penalties. On 4th-and-16, the Braves went into the trickery playbook, dusting off the double-pass play that worked earlier this season against Escanaba.

Young tossed to Eli Berthaume, who threw to a wide open Johnny Hansen for 35 yards to the five yard line. Cole Potier rushed to the left pilon for the touchdown, and the two-point pass from Young was grabbed by Elliot Vitito in the back of the end zone, putting Gladstone in front, 14-6, with 3:58 left in the third quarter.

The Blue Devils didn’t fold. They went on a 64-yard drive, including a big 31-yard run by Laplaunt on 3rd-and-9 from the Braves 44. Then quarterback Jakob Davie found a wide-open Joey Gravelle for the 13-yard touchdown on the final play of the third quarter. The two-point pass failed, so Gladstone still led, 14-12.

The Braves started on their own 35 yard-line and drove to the Soo 10-yard-line. A one-yard run and two incomplete passes led to a 4th and goal from the 9, and Young threw his second red zone interception, this time to John Robinson at the three yard line with 7:38 to play.

The Blue Devils worked their way up-field, with a mixture of running plays and short passes. They converted a 3rd-and-7 pass with an 11-yard strike to Robinson at the Gladstone 36, before an incomplete pass and a nine-yard sack by Hunter Potier put the Blue Devils in a 3rd-and-19 from the 45 with 1:19 left on the clock.

Then, the play of the game. The Braves brought pressure on Davie, but Potier got blocked. Brett Boudreau sprinted through and got Davie’s legs, but the quarterback shrugged it off and scrambled to the sideline. Before going out of bounds, Davie turned and heaved it to a very wide-open Jonah Denuccio-McShane. He took it to the Braves eight yard-line.

The Blue Devils threw three straight incomplete passes in the end zone, leaving it up to Hawker for a 25-yard field goal. He split the uprights with 31.1 seconds left, giving the Soo a 15-14 lead.

Gladstone had one last chance. After returning the kick to the 37-yard-line, Young found Vitito for a 28-yard pass to the Soo 35 yard-line. But with 12 seconds left, Young was pressured and threw the ball away to avoid a sack, and was called for intentional grounding. That moved the ball back to the Gladstone 48, and Young passed to Hansen at the 35 to get the penalty yards back.

But with two seconds left, Gladstone tried another trick play, this time a reverse pass back to Young, but it went nowhere, and the Braves had their third one-point loss of the season (35-34 to Menominee, 31-30 to Negaunee).

It was a game of missed opportunities for Gladstone, even after the second half back-and-forth. In the first half, the Braves drove to the Soo 9-yard-line but Young threw an interception to Scott Maxwell.

Gladstone got fortunate when a high snap on a punt gave them the ball at the Soo 20, but the Braves came up empty when Young’s pass to Hansen on 4th down came up a yard short at the 11-yard line.

Hawker kicked a pair of 27-yard field goals to give his team a 6-0 lead at the half, and his third field goal ended up winning it at the end.

Laplaunt led the Soo offensively with 111 yards on 13 carries, and Robinson had 66 yards on 20 touches. Davie completed 8-of-18 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.

Gladstone got 66 yards on 15 carries from Cole Potier, playing for a second week with a club cast on his right had to protect a fractured wrist. Young completed 11 of 18 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown, but two key interceptions.

The win for the Soo likely will not get them into the state playoffs despite a 6-3 record. That’s because the Michigan High School Athletic Association is basing its 256 playoff teams solely on playoff points, and the Blue Devils, a Division Four team, beat too many teams in lower divisions this season.

But for Gladstone, a Division Six team, it appears that the season will continue into the playoffs, despite a 4-5 record. That’s because the Braves beat larger schools Gaylord and Escanaba, as well as a Division Six Calumet team that went 7-2 this season.

Preliminary point totals posted at MHSAA.com show the Braves in the playoffs with 36.847 points (which could change if Escanaba upsets Hastings on Saturday). Projections would have the Braves opening the playoffs with a rematch at Negaunee next Friday night. The Miners appear to be the region’s top D-6 seed with 40.792 points, despite their Friday night loss at Westwood.

The other two teams in the D-6 field from the U.P. would be Calumet (37.486 after winning over L’Anse Friday night) against Menominee (39.653 points after a last-second loss to Kingsford Friday night).

The final decision won’t come until Sunday night, however, when the MHSAA announces its playoff pairings.

Choose team:
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