HARRIS - Before Friday night, the Bark River-Harris Broncos last win came almost exactly two years ago, on Oct. 8, 2010.
That is, until they beat the Munising Mustangs 36-22 on homecoming night to end the U.P.'s longest losing streak (17) and break into the win column.
"To be honest, I'm speechless," said an emotional Bark River coach Brad Wiljanen. "It's just nice to see that look in the kid's eyes after they got (a win).
Justin?Marietti |?Daily Press
The Bark River-Harris Broncos raise their helmets in victory after defeating Munising 36-22 Friday night, ending the Upper Peninsula’s longest losing streak
"That's what we do this for. It's for those moments right there. It's a really really big moment, and they'll remember this for the rest of their lives."
The first half began as a shootout. On just the third play of the game, Broncos running back Brian Latta broken open a 51-yard run that he took all the way down to the 1-yard line. He fought into the end zone on the next play for the first score of the contest.
Munising answered back with a nine-play, 67-yard drive capped off by an 18-yard touchdown run by Cody Hayes to tie the game.
Score by quarter:
BR-H12 8 8 8 - 36
Munising 6 0 16 0 - 22
BR-H - 398 yards.
Munising - 227 yards.
Munising, (Hayes 15-43); Walther (8-36);
BR-H, (Malone 34-181); Latta (7-91);
Munising, (Ackerman, 5-8-1-970)
BR-H, (Sodergren, 3-7-1-82)
Bark River fired right back with a drive highlighted by a 26-yard reception from Jorden Sodergren to Neil Wentland, and a 43-yard run by Dionte Malone. That run set up a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Malone.
The teams headed to the locker room at half-time with the Broncos leading 20-6. Bark River's homecoming court took the field, and the 2012 homecoming king (Neil Wentland) and queen (Caitlyn Fishell) were announced.
The Mustangs wasted no time trying to get back into the football game, as they came out with guns blazing in the third quarter. Quarterback Noah Ackerman connected with Alex Hill on a 43-yard reception to set up a touchdown.
However, the Broncos were not going to be denied the win, as Malone and Latta marched the ball right back down the field, and scored on a 26-yard rush by Latta.
On the following Mustangs drive, they had one of their biggest plays of the game. Ryan Walther broke through a hole and opened up for a 44-yard touchdown run. They also connected on the two-point conversion to make the score 28-22. But that would be the last time Munising would reach the end zone.
Both teams went scoreless until there was only 1:33 remaining in the game, when Bark River's Malone rushed 13 yards and dove, extending his arms and breaking the plane for one last touchdown.
Munising attempted to put together a final scoring drive, which began with a 35-yard pass to Walther. On the next play, Ackerman threw an interception into the hands of the homecoming king, Wentland, and the whole place began to roar.
The entire field exploded with fans cheering and Broncos players screaming. All their hard work had paid off. They'd finally done it, and everybody there knew it.
"They're a good ball club, and I don't think their record reflects how good they are," said Munising coach Jeff Seaberg. "I've seen them play before against teams that flat-out outmatched them in size, but they weren't going to give up. They never, ever gave up."