By Mike Dunn
Special to the Record-Eagle
ISHPEMING — Lake City put up a whale of a fight on a muddy field Saturday at Ishpeming in the Division 7 regional title game. The underdog Trojans, playing in the regional championship game for the first time ever, trailed 14-6 at the half and remained within striking distance until late in the fourth quarter before suffering a 28-12 defeat.
The Hematites (11-1) advanced to the semifinals next week against Pewamo-Westphalia. Lake City finished out the best season in school history at 10-2.
Junior QB Drew Marion scored both Trojan touchdowns. Marion tallied on a 2-yard keeper early in the second quarter, plowing ahead behind the blocks of Austin Booms and D.J. Hunt, and on a 6-yard run off-tackle behind Hunt and Kyler Root with 20 seconds left in the third quarter.
Marion's first touchdown capped a 33-yard drive following an interception. His third-down completion to Troy Flint in the left flats brought the ball inside the 10-yard line to set up the score and trim Ishpeming's lead to 8-6 at that point.
Marion's second score brought the Trojans within 22-12 on the scoreboard but that was as close as the visitors would get in the second half. Marion's 16-yard completion to Ryan Vincent on fourth-and-6 from near midfield kept the drive alive.
Lake City drove into Hematite territory and had the chance to pull within a touchdown late in the fourth quarter after Marion connected with Kevin Kunkel for 13 yards. The drive ended when Marion's fourth-down pass was intercepted near the goal line by Ishpeming safety Alex Briones.
Briones, the Ishpeming quarterback, scored all four times for the Hematites on runs of 11, 2, 5 and 42 yards. The latter touchdown was Ishpeming's longest play from scrimmage. Running back Eric Kostreva scored twice on conversion runs.
The Hematites, with Briones taking the snap out of a wildcat formation on the slippery turf, scored their first three touchdowns on methodical drives, moving forward in small but steady increments. The home team went for it on fourth down seven times in the game and made it five times.
The Trojans swarmed to the ball defensively throughout the contest and forced Ishpeming to earn its points. Linebackers Kyler Root and Storm Francisco and defensive tackle Cody Burns were among the standouts.