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Jets fly over Lakes

Adam Niemi | Houghton Daily Mining Gazette North Central quarterback Luke Gorzinski (11) rushes while being pursued by Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Kirby Koskela (52) and Isaac Codere (77) on Saturday in Lake Linden.

LAKE LINDEN — Luke Gorzinski and the North Central Jets simply don’t know how to slow down. Even in a time when COVID-19 restrictions make it inevitable for idle times. In the Jets’ first game after a two-week hiatus because of COVID-19, Gorzinski and the Jets showed why they’re the No. 2 team in the state.

On a cold and soggy day characterized by a 31-degree temperature with snow at kickoff, that warmed just enough into rain in the second half, North Central and Lake Linden-Hubbell traded blows at Warner Field. When the mud settled, the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association No. 2 Jets were 34-22 victors over the No. 4 Lakes. But it wasn’t always so easy for the Jets, who at one point held a 20-point lead. The Lakes (2-3) later made it a six-point game. It was the 18th meeting between the schools and the first since North Central’s 22-14 win in 2013. Gorzinski paced North Central’s offense with 187 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 38 carries. He also completed 5 of 10 passes for 108 yards. The Jets put up 283 yards of total offense, while Lake Linden-Hubbell amassed 305 yards. It was Gorzinski’s and the rest of North Central’s first time on the field in half a month.

“Hats off to Lake Linden. That was just a good physical football game, “ said North Central head coach Leo Gorzinski. “We are missing six of our normal starters due to COVID-19. In fact, we have been off for two weeks without a practice. When the kids got on the bus today, it was our first football activity in two weeks.”

The Jets (5-0), who are also ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll, didn’t seem to have missed a step. Despite a few mishaps that could easily have been attributed to miserable weather conditions, North Central looked strong.

“We had players step up and show heart and guts, “ Gorzinski said. “That heart and soul put the Jets on the scoreboard three times before the Lakes posted any points.”

On their first possession in the first quarter, Gorzinski led a 53-yard drive that culminated in his 22-yard touchdown run.

On the Lakes’ ensuing possession, North Central’s Carter Eichmeier intercepted a deflected pass on the line of scrimmage and returned it about 30 yards for the score and a 12-0 lead.

As the second quarter got underway, it became a 20-0 contest as the Jets put together a 91-yard drive, which ended with a Gorzinski touchdown and a successful two-point conversion.

It did not take long into the second that the Jets bread and butter was their quarterback. The game began to look like Gorzinski versus the Lakes, and rightfully so, according to their coach.

“Luke Gorzinski is the heart and soul of this team, “ said the Jets coach. “We were having trouble today with some of the ball-handling there in the first, so Luke became our go-to guy. “Then it was the Lakes turn to get on the scoreboard, and they did it in quick fashion and on the ground at about halfway through the second. First, it was a 61-yard run by Caleb Klein. Just a possession later, quarterback Brandon LaVigne one-upped him with a 76-yard sprint down the sidelines. With the two-point conversion good, it became a one-possession contest at 20-16.

But the Lakes’ luck ran out shortly after. With just under a minute to go in the first half, LaVigne squared up to punt and was blocked by the Jets. Three plays later, Gorzinski worked his touchdown magic again to make it 28-16 at halftime.

Lakes head coach Brett Gervais gave his team kudos in the locker room for their hard work.

“I told them that the conditions on the field are terrible,” Gervais said. “There were fumbles all over the place, but I saw a lot of fight in our guys. Even better, I saw a lot of fight even till the end.” As the third quarter got underway, both teams traded possession at around the mid-field. However, as the clock reached the 7:30 mark, the Lakes thought they had made it a one-possession game when they took over at their own 29-yard line.

LaVigne took the snap, stepped back, pumped faked, and hit a wide-open Will Lyons at the 50-yard line. Lyons turned it on and finished it off in the end zone to make an impressive a 72-yard pass play. However, it was called back with an illegal block in the back by the Lakes.

However, the Lakes did not disappoint as Klein, just minutes later, cut to the outside on a 30-yard dash to make the score 28-22 headed into the fourth.

But, that was as good as it would get for the Lakes. Gorzinski ran for his fourth score with 16 seconds left in the third, the final points of the game. Klein led the Lakes’ rushing attack with 146 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Lavigne rushed 97 yards with a touchdown on 11 attempts. Lavigne completed 2 of 5 passes for 56 yards and an interception. North Central receiver Ian Gorzinski caught four passes for 95 yards. LL-H’s Lyons caught one pass for 32 yards. Mason Codere caught the other for 31 yards. Gorzinski’s 187-yard rushing day was capped by Lakes defensive stalwarts Isaac Codere and Lyons, who combined for 27 tackles on the day. Codere had 15 tackles and a sack while Lyons had 12 tackles and a sack. Klein also had eight tackles. Ben Tampas had six tackles and two sacks. In facing a top-five team in the state, the Lakes defense, despite giving up points, had challenged a deep Jets offense.

“It was a good situation for us to play them,” Gervais said. “It was a high level of football, and this is how we learn. After a two-week hiatus, we are all just glad to be out here playing.”

The Lakes play at Munising on Friday.

North Central 12 16 6 0 — 34

Lake Linden-Hubbell 0 16 6 0 — 22

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