GLADSTONE—Despite a late-game rally by the Gladstone Braves, the Menominee Maroons snuck away with a 35-34 win Friday night in Gladstone.
Following their third touchdown of the fourth quarter, which put them within one point of the Maroons, the Braves recovered an onside kick with 1:46 left in the game, but Gladstone’s resurgence came to an end as Menominee’s Aden Laurin intercepted a pass thrown by Cam Kelly.
“We played an excellent first and third quarter. We had some good momentum but lost it a little bit in the second. At the end of the game is when you want to have momentum. We didn’t and Gladstone did, but it comes down to making crucial plays at crucial times and Aden had two big interceptions for us, for hat’s off to him,” Menominee coach Joe Noha said.
“That was a heart pounder. That’s a good way of putting it.”
Menominee capitalized on early Gladstone turnovers to go up 21-0 in the first quarter.
The Maroons broke the plane to score three times in the opening quarter with Trevor Theuerkauf scoring on a 19 yard run then Aidan Bellisle taking it in on foot twice from nine and two yards out.
Cam Kelly scored on foot—a six-yard run—just over six minutes into the second quarter to put the Braves on the board and make it 21-6 at the half.
The teams traded blows in the third as the Maroons—who started the half with the ball—scored on a 17-yard run by Kaeden Calcari. Then, the Braves scored as Kelly scrambled out of the pocket to find an open Eli Berthaume for a 31-yard score.
Theuerkauf scored once more—the final Menominee touchdown of the night—on a short burst with about two minutes left in the quarter.
Noha said the win comes from a full team effort and not just one player.
“We’re team 128 in Menominee, 128 years of football,” he said. “Not one player does not make or break us. We have 14 seniors, and they are the glue to our team. Just a lot of hard play by everyone.
“It’s just good to be outside again without all these restrictions, and the fans were nice and loud. It’s just fun. It was fun football.”
The Maroons totaled 294 yards of offense, with Bellisle accounting for 141 of those rushing.
Two integral players for the Braves in the fourth quarter were Vinnie Howes and John Hansen.
Howes broke through the Menominee line to block a punt and put the Braves in scoring position—which they did on the next play with a pass from Kelly to Nate Young—on the 19-yard line.
Following the next Braves touchdown—another Kelly pass this time to Caden Downey—Hansen recovered the onside kick to retain possession.
“Two huge special teams plays,” Hansen said of the big moments. “The game is played in all three phases and, no matter what the circumstances of the game are, those are huge plays when it comes to special teams. “Those were two very, very, hard-working football players. Vinnie and John take their jobs very seriously wherever they’re at on the field, and—boy—they made a couple of really big football plays to bring it right down to the wire.”
Overall, he was happy with the character shown by the Braves to not give up after being down 21-0 in the first quarter.
“I think a lesser team would have folded up the tents when it’s 21-0 in the first quarter,” Hansen said. “There was) a lot of self-induced adversity but the kids saw it just as an opportunity to go out there and play and come together.
“That was the challenge for us was to, ‘alright, let’s all buy-in, not forget what we’re trying to do here, believe in ourselves and believe in each other and just see what happens over the next three-quarters of the game.’”
Gladstone totaled 363 yards of offense with 209 yards rushing and 154 passing.
Kelly—whose fourth-quarter 56-yard touchdown started the Braves rally—had 157 on the ground, while Berthaume and Young made up the majority of the receiving with 74 and 62 yards, respectively.
Kelly collected five touchdowns with two on the ground and three—two to Berthaume and one to Young—through the air.
Up next for Menominee is Freedom, Wis on Friday at Freedom. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.