Ishpeming, MI – August 31, 2023 – On a beautiful day at the Playgrounds, the Ishpeming Hematites earned their first win of the season in a 28-20 nail-biter over the Manistique Emeralds. Both teams carried week one losses into the game, and both were determined to find their first win.
The Emeralds had the first possession of the game, but only minutes into the drive, a fumble in the offensive backfield was picked up by Ishpeming lineman Christopher Steele and returned for a touchdown. Hunter Smith converted the two-point try, and the Hematites led 8-0. Manistique responded with a long drive capped by a one-yard quarterback sneak by Parker Graphos, and after the extra point was missed wide left, the Hematites led 8-6. Ishpeming’s Caden Luoma scored before the end of the quarter, with Hunter Smith adding the two point conversion to bring the Hematites’ lead to 16-6.
Halfway through the second quarter, Luoma connected with Connor Gauthier on an outside pass that Gauthier took to the house, extending the Ishpeming lead to 22-6. Manistique answered with a one-yard touchdown pass from Graphos to Mack Pugh late in the frame, and after Wyatt Demers caught the two-point conversion pass, the Emeralds pulled to within one score, 22-14, which remained the score at the half. Manistique was assessed a personal foul after the final play of the second quarter, which, according to a rule change, was assessed on the second half kickoff.
Manistique, kicking off from their own 25 to start the second half, executed a perfect onside kick, recovered by Carsyn Hinkson at their own 37 yard line. The Emeralds proceeded to put together a long, methodical drive, holding onto the football for the entire third quarter, before scoring on the first play of the final stanza on a 12 yard pass from Graphos to Pugh. The conversion was unsuccessful, and the Hematites held on to a slim 22-20 lead. Ishpeming responded with a long drive of their own, and Caden Luoma finished it with a short touchdown run up the middle. The Hematites were unable to convert on the two-point attempt, leaving the score at 28-20 and opening the door for Manistique to potentially tie the game on their next possession. The Emeralds were able to get the ball to the Ishpeming 33 yard line, but an errant pass by Graphos was intercepted by Luoma, sealing the 28-20 win for Ishpeming.
The next Ishpeming Hematites football broadcast will be Friday, September 8, when the Iron Mountain Mountaineers visit the Playgrounds for a rematch of the District Semi-Final from last season. The game kicks off at 7:00, and Tyler Young and Bob Nadeau will have the call on 98.3 WRUP and online at wrup.com.