Predators roll to 2-0
By RON DEUTER
NORWAY – Two games. Eight-five points.
A week after his five passing touchdown performance against Coleman, Northern Elite quarterback Joey Swanson burned another defense with his arm.
Putting up 242 yards on 8-of-12 passing in three quarters with two more scores, Swanson guided Northern Elite to a 40-22 victory over Norway Thursday night at Ronberg Field.
Jake Pedrotti scored three touchdowns for the 2-0 Predators, hauling in a 26-yard go-ahead score in the second quarter and capping two other drives with a pair of direct-snap, up-the-gut rushing tallies inside the five yard line.
“To be 2-0 after two of our toughest opponents, it feels good,” Northern Elite head coach Ben Laarman said. “It’s a nice place to be.”
After falling behind 8-0 in the first quarter, the Predators scored 40 unanswered points. Northern Elite led by two touchdowns at halftime before pouring it on with three trips to the end zone in the third quarter. Laarman sat many of his starters in the final frame.
“We knew how good that Swanson boy was,” said Norway coach Bob Madigan, his Knights slipping to 0-1. “We knew we could contain him a little bit, but we weren’t going to stop him. We contained him for a little bit, but then he busted loose on us.”
Norway took the early lead, putting an eight-play, 73-yard drive together on its second possession of the game. A Taylor Bonetti option pitch to Jordan Neumann worked for a 44-yard gain. Bonetti then connected for 25 yards to Garrett Bonetti on a fourth and seven before Neumann finished with a two-yard plunge off left tackle. The Knights tacked on two more with a Bonetti keeper.
Northern Elite answered on its next drive. The big play there was a Swanson to Trent Heath pass and catch up the middle for 38 yards. Pedrotti capped it a few snaps later with his first three-yard score. A kick by Adam Parent meant Northern Elite still trailed by a point heading into the second quarter.
A fumble on Norway’s next try set the Predators up near midfield. While the Knights held them there, an interception caught by Swanson on the next Norway possession did result in quick points. Swanson hooked up with Patrick Moreau for a 29-yard reception and followed that with the 26-yard go-ahead peg to Pedrotti.
A deep ball to Tarzis Maurer went for a 57-yard score on the second play of Northern Elite’s next turn with the ball to give the visitors a two-score cushion.
Norway managed another impressive march down the field before half and threatened to make it a one score affair. But the drive stalled just outside of the redzone. After Bonetti connected with Austin Gravold for a 28-yard gain down to the 25, the Knights – fighting the clock – took a few more shots in the air in an attempt to cross the goal line. Bonetti’s passes were on the mark but dropped.
Things went downhill from there for Norway, as Northern Elite – thanks to Pedrotti’s second rushing tally, scored on the first possession of the third quarter. A little more than a minute later, Hunter Kaldor blocked a Norway punt, and Brandon Holcomb scooped it up and rumbled 20 yards to pay dirt.
Norway lost its second fumble of the game later in the frame, and Northern Elite hit the 40-point mark for a second straight week on a 3-yard run by Domenic Spigarelli. A 49-yard Swanson to Parent aerial set the Preds up inside the five on that scoring drive.
“I thought the first half was similar to last week in that we really weren’t controlling the line of scrimmage,” Laarman said. “We got some good plays in the passing game, so we were able to put some points on the board and get a lead. But we really didn’t play the way I wanted to play.
“I was really happy with how we came out and played in the third quarter. We were more physical, really played the style of play that I want us to play.”
Grayvold took back a punt for a 71 yard touchdown in the fourth for Norway. He immediately met opposition upon catching the punt, but circled back a few yards, found a seam in the middle and took off. RJ Hewlett found Gravold in the end zone for a late 28-yard, fourth-quarter strike.
Neumann led all runners in the game with 84 yards on 11 trips. Grayvold wound up with four catches for 42 yards to lead Norway receivers.
“The defense wasn’t that bad,” Madigan said. “It was really three big plays. But then in the second half they came out and wore us down.
“Our kids stuck in it till the end and played hard. I was happy with attitude of the kids. We’re going to come back tomorrow and practice and get ready for next week and suit up and play.”
Nate Moll led Northern Elite with 12 tackles and two forced fumbles. Swanson added nine along with a fumble recovery and his pick. Heath had the Predators other fumble recovery.
Northern Elite plays at Menominee Indian Saturday, Sept. 7. Norway heads to Crystal Falls Friday, Sept. 6.
Northern Elite 7 14 19 0 – 40
Norway 8 0 0 14 – 22
NOR – Jordan Neumann 2 run (Taylor Bonetti run), 4:26.
NEP – Jake Pedrotti 3 run (Adam Parent kick), 0:23.
NEP – Pedrotti 26 pass from Joey Swanson (Parent kick), 7:58.
NEP – Tarzis Maurer 57 pass from Swanson (Parent kick), 4:59.
NEP – Pedrotti 3 run (Parent kick), 9:34.
NEP – Brandon Holcomb 320 block punt return (kick failed), 8:28.
NEP – Domenic Spigarelli 3 run (kick failed), 0:13.
NOR – Austin Grayvold 71 punt return (run failed), 7:34.
NOR – Grayvold 12 pass from RJ Hewlett (Grayvold pass from Hewlett), 4:07.
Total yards – NEP 359 (117 run, 242 pass); NOR 263 (148 run, 115 pass).
Rushing leaders – NEP: Swanson 12-57, Pedrotti 9-41; NOR: Neumann 11-84, Grayvold 8-45.
Receiving leaders – NEP: Maurer 1-57, Parent 1-49, Trent Heath 2-46; NOR: Grayvold 4-70, Nick Pearman 2-20.
Passing – NEP: Swanson 8-12-242-2-0; NOR: Bonetti 7-18-103-0-1, Hewlett 1-2-12-1-0.
Interceptions – NEP: Swanson.
Sacks – NEP: Jevan Lucena/Heath, Preston Dumke; NOR: Zavier Gonzalez.
Penalties – NEP: 3-30; NOR: 5-55.