Menominee’s James Brown plows between Milwaukee Riverside tacklers Friday night at Walton Blesch Field. EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Menominee’s James Brown plows between Milwaukee Riverside tacklers Friday night at Walton Blesch Field.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
MENOMINEE - Milwaukee may be the home of big-city basketball, but Walton Blesch Field is the proving ground of U.P. football.

Menominee bashed Milwaukee Riverside with its twin-engine ground game in a 42-7 victory in the Maroons' home opener Friday night.

After a week on the practice field following last week's season opener, the Maroons chewed up yardage like a souped-up roadster.

Menominee scored on its first four possessions and tagged the Tigers for 247 yards in the first half while blasting out to a 28-7 lead.

"We showed a lot of improvement on both sides of the ball," said coach Joe Noha, after diving into a swarm of happy Maroons. "The line of scrimmage got a lot better. We sustained drives and scored in the red zone, which was a big emphasis this week."

After 26 plays, the Maroons had 28 points on the board.

Two minutes into the game, James Brown scored on a 14-yard run and Evan Pohlmann planted the PAT over the fence.

Hard-nosed running by Brown and Justin Brilinski spurred a 53-yard scoring march before Brilinski flipped a 9-yard scoring pass to Shaun Sullivan with 4:56 left in the first quarter.

The Maroon defense only allowed the Tigers' electric speed to show any sparks a few times, including a 46-yard spiral from Jeremy Gray to Michael Hausen that set up a a 4-yard TD scamper by Gray with 1:30 left in the first quarter.

"A couple of times they got away from us a little bit, but our defense did a nice job of containing their quarterback and their skill kids," said Noha.

It took just five plays to stomp on the Riverside momentum. Brilinski cut and crunched his way through the Tigers and Devon Barley blasted through for a 12-yard dash to set up a 27-yard scoring dash by Brilinski. The Maroon tailback left one Tiger in the dust at the 17 and then left another cat grasping at air as he darted into the end zone.

Pohlmann's third PAT gave Menominee a 21-7 lead with 11:52 left in the half.

The defense forced another four-and-out to set up a brisk four-play scoring march. Brilinski connected with Nate Marcin on a 27-yard crossing pattern and Brilinski closed out the 43-yard drive with a 4-yard run with 9:25 left in the half. A fan, Randy Walk, perched on his garage roof, snared Pohlmann's fourth PAT of the game.

"Our backs ran well and our we blocked really well," Noha said. "We ran our basic plays but we were able to get guys in space tonight."

The Maroons kept up their relentless attack on the opening drive of the second half as Sullivan got two steps on a defender and snared a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brilinski. The tackle-busting rushing of Brown and Brilinski led the seven-play, 64-yard drive.

After Menominee stuffed a Riverside fourth down at the Tigers' 33, Brilinski pierced the Riverside secondary again with an 11-yard pass to Barley and Brown bulled his way up the gut for a 9-yard touchdown run. Sullivan's sixth PAT gave the Maroons their 42-7 lead and set off the running clock with 1:02 left in the third quarter.

Brown led the Maroons with 108 yards on 15 carries and Brilinski had 72 yards on 13 carries and completed 11 of 17 passes for 136 yards.

Riverside, which is tabbed as the favorite to repeat as Milwaukee City Conference champions, slipped to 0-3.

"I learned that we're not very good," a frustrated coach Pat Wagner said. "We didn't play with any heart."

The Maroons (2-0) play defending Division 8 state champion Harbor Beach at Gaylord Sept. 14.