Braves whitewash struggling Maroons

MENOMINEE — For the second week in a row, Menominee had opportunities to score but couldn’t figure out a way to punch it in, and the Maroons were defeated by Gladstone 14-0 for the first time since 2008 on Friday night.

“It’s been a decade. Any time that you can get a win against Menominee, they’re a state championship program so any time you can go there and win is a big feather in our cap for our program.” Gladstone coach Jeff Hansen said.

Gladstone elected to receive the opening kickoff after Menominee deferred over to them and the Braves wasted no time in scoring as Zach Hanson caught the ball at the 5-yard line and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown. The extra point attempt was no good and Gladstone held a 6-0 lead just 13 seconds into the game.

Menominee had a great chance to score on its ensuing possession thanks to a big hookup on 2nd and 18 from tailback Brendon Harris to Kyle Anderson for a 34-yard completion down to Gladstone’s 13-yard line.

Three plays later, the Maroons were looking at a 4th and 2 from the 4, but William Burnett was stuffed at the line by the Braves defense for a turnover-on-downs.

The Maroons got the ball back three plays later when Harris stepped in front of a Jared Crow pass at the 15-yard line and returned it to the 8, but Gladstone’s defense forced a 3-and-out and Menominee tried to kick a field goal that sailed wide-left and the Braves took over with just under five minutes to play in the half.

“Again this week we didn’t get much of a push at the line of scrimmage and it made things difficult for our backs to find some room to maneuver,” Menominee coach Joe Noha said. “We had some opportunities to get in the endzone but just didn’t punch it in.”

After not forcing a turnover the first two weeks of the season, Menominee picked off two passes in the first quarter from Gladstone’s dangerous QB. The second interception came just after the missed field goal when Crow tried to find Rudy Peterson but he bobbled the catch and it fell right into the hands of Anderson at the Gladstone 46-yard line.

Menominee gave it right back on the second of play of its drive on a Shawn Sandahl fumble.

The Maroons had six fumbles, three in each half, to really shut down any chances at scoring.

“It’s been a consistent theme for us so far,” Noha said. “Not getting a push at the line and then turning the ball over. I don’t have much of an answer for the turnovers tonight, we catch balls in practice all week and then in game-time we have a hard time holding onto it. We’re just going to have to keep working on that, coaching them up and hopefully we get better at hanging onto the ball.”

All night it was an offensive struggle for the two teams. Menominee’s defense would get a big stop and get the offense back out on the field and then Gladstone’s defense would step up and do the same. Both teams went back and forth the rest of the first half with neither offense getting close enough to have a shot at the endzone.

“Offense was a struggle for both teams in all reality, we were both trying to do our usual stuff and it was going to come down to who popped off a big play,” Hansen said.

To start the second half, Harris bobbled the snap on the third play

and the ball was recovered by Gladstone’s Zach Hughes at Menominee’s 36-yard line. The Maroons defense held tough and forced a turnover on downs at its own 15, but a three-and-out gave the ball right back to the Braves.

Menominee picked off its third pass of the night when Burnett stepped in front of another throw from Crow, but the defense of the Braves stood tough and forced a turnover on downs at its own 39.

“Our defense really hung tough and played well, especially in fourth down and short yardage situations,” Hansen said.

“If you play good defense and win the turnover battle usually you’re going to be in pretty good shape and Menominee is a heck of a program so you really have to be finishers if you’re going to get a win, especially at (Walton Blesch Field).”

Gladstone scored the only offensive touchdown of the night in the fourth quarter after its defense forced another Harris fumble and Brody Sanville broke off a 46-yard touchdown run two plays later.

Crow linked up with Zach Hanson for the extra point and the Braves led 14-0 with 7:04 remaining in the game.

“Brody is an underrated running back, he’s not a huge kid but he’s got some vision and when he gets some room and breaks free he’s tough to stop,” Hansen said.

Menominee was led on the ground by Burnett with 56 yards on 15 carries and Harris had 39 on 16 touches. Harris also completed 11 of 16 passes for 136 yard and Caden Bigger caught four passes for 64 with Anderson hauling in four for 62.

Sanville led the charge on the ground for Gladstone with his 175 yards on 32 carries with a touchdown and Menominee was able to hold Crow, who threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns last week, to 3 of 14 for 8 yards and 3 interceptions.

“Our defense is playing really good, we only gave up 7 points on defense and the other was a breakdown on special teams” Noha said. “On a normal year that’s really good but we’re just struggling to get in the endzone, struggling to get a rhythm. We just have to get into a rhythm, find some confidence and get in the endzone.

We’re making too many mistakes to get a win. Right now, our goal is to just continue to get better and not turn the ball over.”