ESCANABA – As the student section rushed the field, as Cam Beversluis stood smiling with a bloody nose, as head coach Jim Hansen fought back tears during his postgame interview, as the team shouted “OH AND THREE” wearing it like a badge of honor on the sideline, anyone watching must have known they were witnessing something incredible Friday night.
0-3 beat 3-0. The Escanaba Eskymos drubbed Marquette 35-14 on Homecoming and the team looked relieved as much as they were elated.
“I told the (Daily Press), I told Denny Grall, I told the radio, everybody. We were so close,” said Hansen. “We knew where we had to get better and we just kept getting better. Tonight, for the most part, things just came together for us. The kids did an awesome job.”
Travis Heller threw touchdown passes of 93, 78 and 63 yards and rushed for another and Cam Beversluis had two receving touchdowns and another on the ground. But nearly everyone got in on the action for the Eskymos Friday night.
Sean Bissell rushed for 54 yards, Beversluis for 122, Heller for 52. Trevan Wendrick blasted off on a 93 yard screen pass and dash.
The Eskymos offense was rolling on all cylinders.
“We put in all the work,” said Beversluis, who caught three passes for 158 yards. “It’s been a long time coming, but its well deserved. It’s something that needed to be done, and we came through.”
As powerful a tandem as Heller and Beversluis have been this season, even in defeat – both players broke school record last week at Cheboygan, both Beversluis and Hansen deflected credit, channeling their inner Bo Schembechler. The team, the team, the team.
“We have a great line and I have a great quarterback,” said Beversluis. “Trav puts the ball in perfect spots all over the field. It was a great team win.”
Said Hansen, “There is no such thing as individual records. The first thing those guys did was high five and hug everyone else. It’s always a team record. We have some nice players and everything came together for us tonight.”
Did it ever.
Hansen noticed the wind was in his favor when Escanaba had the ball to start its second possession of the game. He said to his coaches, he wanted to test it. Heller went loose and dropped a pass perfectly in Beversluis’s arms and he was gone, 78 yards to put Esky on the board 7-0.
Marquette moved the ball well nearly all game, but had big mistakes at key times. The Redmen lost two fumbles and threw three picks. They also turned the ball over on downs a couple times deep in Escanaba territory.
In all, the Redmen offense scored just one touchdown, with under a minute to go in the game.
“It was just a bunch of costly turnovers that hurt us.” said Redmen coach Dave L’Huillier. “They made a lot of big plays and we didn’t. We didn’t make the plays we needed to stay in the game, both offensively and defensively.”
Things went from bad to worse for Marquette midway through the second quarter.
Down 14-0, the Redmen were driving and nearly in the Eskymos’ red zone, when quarterback Brett Place through a pass to the endzone that was picked off by James McNeil. Place was hit on the throw and didn’t get up. After being assessed by the training staff, he was taken off in an ambulance. His status is not known, but his injury did not appear to be threatening.
Backup Connor Brazeau did what he could and held his own, passing for 90 yards on a lot of short dump-offs in the second half, but the deficit the Redmen faced was a lot to handle and Brazeau threw two interceptions.
Marquette got on the board late in the second quarter when Heller made his only error of the game, an interception deep in Esky territory that was returned by Larry Burnette for a touchdown.
With the victory, the Eskymos have now beaten Marquette in back-to-back seasons. Both victories could certainly be called upsets, but Hansen chalked it up to the unpredictability of high school football.
“I don’t want to say anyone has anyone’s number, because anything can happen any Friday night. That’s more what it is. Whether you’re favored, good record, bad record, it’s high school football at its finest.
“It was awesome. This is what its all about. Friday night football in Escanaba. It’s homecoming. I’m so proud of these kids, the fans, the community. It doesn’t get any better than this right now.”
Escanaba (1-3) will host perennial powershouse Detroit Country Day, Saturday Sept. 28.