All Purple Hornets in Keweenaw Bay clash
L’ANSE – It was apparent from the very start that the Battle of Keweenaw Bay between the Baraga Vikings and L’Anse Purple Hornets Friday night was going to be one-sided.
Any slender hopes the Vikings had of springing an upset were done in by a flurry of turnovers to begin the game, and they never recovered in dropping a 52-0 decision to their county rivals.
“We wanted to jump on them right away … and it worked out that way,” LHS coach Mark Leaf said. “They’re a very young team and we wanted to get a lead on them.”
A pass interception by Ryan LaBerge helped start up the scoring parade by the Purple Gang, setting them up inside the Baraga 25-yard line.
Senior tailback Jimmy Veker capped the short drive with a 7-yard scoring run.
LaBerge, who was a perfect 7-of-7 on extra points on the night, converted to make it 7-0.
The Hornets were back on the board not long afterward when LaBerge spiraled a 36-yard scoring pass to Veker to make 14-0.
L’Anse wasn’t done yet in the opening period. Sophomore fullback Ryan Beauprey barreled in from 11 yards away and it was 21-0.
LaBerge, seeing extended action at quarterback, hit Brandon Kemppainen with a 17-yard TD strike to begin the second frame.
“We wanted to get Ryan (LaBerge) some time behind center,” Leaf said. “We were able to get everyone on our roster a lot of playing time tonight … that’s something you always want to do.”
Short touchdown runs by Beauprey and Drake Sullivan rounded out the second quarter as LHS held a 42-0 lead at intermission.
The first score by the was set up when the Hornets recovered their own kickoff at the Viking 6-yard line.
Veker added a 7-yard scoring run in the third quarter and LaBerge booted a 32-yard field goal in the fourth stanza.
Coach Eric DeMink’s Vikings threatened late in the game, getting to the L’Anse 11 before running out of downs.
“I give Baraga a lot of credit,” Leaf commented. “They were still playing hard right to the end.”
Veker paced the L’Anse ground game with 94 yards in six carries, while Beauprey added 79 more in 5 tries.
Baraga lost three fumbles and had two passes picked off – both by LaBerge.
The Hornets host Ironwood in a WestPAC game next Friday evening. The Vikings do the same to Hurley, Wis. in Great Western Conference action.