The Turnaround Season: Game Six at Kingsford

Nick Palmer
4 min readOct 2, 2020
The postgame huddle after a physical game(Photo Credit Terry Delpier ©)

October 1, 2010

Riding a four-game win streak and in hot pursuit of their first Great Northern Conference title since the late 1970s, Marquette football had the Upper Peninsula on high alert. Next up for the team was Kingsford, ranked in the top-five for all of MHSAA’s Division Four. The contest was tabbed as TV6’s “Friday Night Fever” game of the week, the second of three straight homecoming road trips for MSHS. Also at play for the visitors was another streak: Marquette hadn’t defeated the Flivvers since 1987 when Coach Dave L’Huillier was the starting quarterback.

The game itself was played in a cold downpour at Flivver Field, the stage for one of the biggest moments of the season. Kingsford was a blue-collar, smash mouth group with athletes like QB Kyle Sexton as well as eventual Michigan Tech lettermen Jeff Gregory (basketball) and Ian Wienke (football) leading a team that was expected to win the Great Northern Conference after defeating Menominee the week before, 14–7. Finally providing Marquette with a truly daunting challenge, Kingsford had a line that were just as big, physical, and fast with Kyle LeFebvre, Marshall Kent, Kyle Barglind, Jim Joski, and Brandon Aman.

The heavyweight fight did not disappoint. The Flivvers started the game by driving down the field for a quick touchdown and giving the hometown crowd the impression that this contest would go just like the previous 23 meetings. That impression was dismissed when Garrett Pentecost returned the ensuing kickoff to the house for a special teams touchdown that proved the contest had been deserving of its “Game of the Week” designation.

The Marquette defense was on their toes all night (Photo Credit Terry Delpuer ©)

After forcing Kingsford to punt, Marquette kept their foot on the gas by digging into their bag of tricks and running the same trick play that had worked earlier in the year against Cheboygan. Colin Terry caught a pass behind the line of scrimmage and looked downfield to find a receiver. His pass hit a striding Pentecost for a 63-yard touchdown to give the visitors a 13–7 lead. Kingsford then took control back with two consecutive touchdown drives to give the Flivvers a 20–13 lead with a few minutes until halftime. In a time crunch, it was Nick Emmendorfer and the passing game finding Terry and Chris Forsberg for big plays that led to a Kasaim Koonala touchdown. Marquette built a 21–20 lead before halftime, to put the homecoming crowd on pins and needles.

In the second half, the vaunted Kingsford defensive line clamped down on Pentecost, holding the feature back to -4 yards on 6 carries. The weather also took a toll on the field in the second half; neither team scored in the entire third quarter as it was hard to gain footing on the muddy terrain. Emmendorfer started the fourth quarter by completing a flurry of passes to Terry, Pentecost, Forsberg, and Matt Mills, setting up a second Koonala touchdown to reclaim the lead, 27–21, in the middle of the fourth quarter. At that point, whispers began to wonder if it would be enough to give the visitors a monumental upset win.

Brian Meyers with what many thought was the play of the game (Photo Credit Terry Delpier ©)

On 3rd down during the ensuing Flivver drive, it was linebacker Brian Meyers who made one of the biggest plays of the game by sacking the Flivvers’ QB to force a punt. Fans in the contingent from Marquette hoped that they could possibly run the clock out, but Kingsford responded the very next play by forcing a Marquette turnover.

With under five minutes left in the game, Kingsford was able to tie the score at 27. Marquette responded by going three and out. Needing to make a play, L’Huillier tried to dig into the bag of tricks one last time, running the same fake punt play that had worked in Cheboygan. This time, the pass from Koonala fell incomplete for a turnover on downs. Responding quickly, Kingsford scored just three plays later to move ahead by one score.

Trying to run a two-minute drill to tie the game, Marquette committed one last fateful turnover and Kingsford clinched the win (#200 for longtime coach Chris Hofer), 34–27. The sugar high was over. In suffering their first loss in five weeks, Marquette had finally met their match against one of the top teams in the state of Michigan. It was the Flivvers, who outgained Marquette in yardage, 316–259, who provided a wakeup call for Marquette by pushing them to 4–2.

Despite the loss, Marquette couldn’t lick their wounds for long. The team had another road game against a top-five team in the UP in just one week at Menominee, coached by another legendary leader in Ken Hofer. Given his connection to Kingsford’s coach (his son, Chris), most figured Hofer would enter with a great scouting report. Check back next week for the Marquette-Menominee game, backdrop for one of the biggest moments of the season.

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Nick Palmer

Proud Yooper, TRIO Director, Wannabe Scholar, Recovering Politician