Too much to handle
For the first half of Alpena’s matchup with Cadillac on Friday, the Wildcats did exactly what coach Mel Skillman wanted them to do: they shut down quarterback Jalen Brooks and took a 14-13 lead into halftime.
However, when the game clock ran out, Cadillac had picked up a 40-14 win.
The first half saw the Vikings rushing attack struggle against Alpena’s defense. The Wildcats successfully shut down Brooks, holding him to 79 yards and Michael Holdship to 46.
But by the end of the night, Alpena gave up 339 passing yards, and Brooks picked up five passing touchdowns.
Alpena (1-3, 0-2 Big North) came out strong in its second possession of the game, with a three-yard Jordan Ferguson run and a one yard Dylan Hoes pass setting up a 40-yard touchdown from Tyler Pintar pass to Josh Bell with 8:41 left in the first quarter.
Bell had 67 receiving yards. Pintar threw for 64 yards on six completions. Ferguson picked up 59 yards on nine carries.
Cadillac answered back quickly on the kick-off with a 55-yard return touchdown by Patrick Briggs. The extra point was good, taking the game to 7-7 tie midway through the quarter.
The Wildcats offense struggled, as the defense held strong. Alpena held the Vikings to a turnover on downs with 2:32 left in the first quarter, after a drive that ate up five minutes.
The Vikings scored again with 43 seconds left in the quarter to pull ahead 13-7.
Pintar was able to generate some offense on Alpena’s next drive with a five-yard pass to Hoes and a five yard rush by Ferguson to end the quarter. After a few first downs, Ferguson picked up a 40-yard run to set up a three-yard touchdown on the next play. An extra point gave Alpena the lead.
The Vikings took over the ball and started a grinding drive that went through five first downs and 57 yards. It ended at 4th and 13 and three incomplete passes at 4:19, after eating up six minutes of the quarter.
Alpena’s defense continued to shut down the Vikings’ running game, but struggled against the pass. On Cadillac’s next drive, Brooks threw a 30-yard pass to open the drive and another 20-yarder a few plays later. Once Cadillac was in the red zone, Alpena’s defense buckled down, and shut down the Vikings on 4th-and-5 with 21 seconds left in the half.
Alpena’s struggle against the pass came back to haunt it in the second half as the Vikings opened the second half with a 60-yard touchdown pass to Logan Webb. The conversion was good and the Vikings went up 21-14.
Webb had 121 passing reception yards on the night.
The Vikings’ defense began to clamp down on Alpena, shutting it down on its first drive. Cadillac converted on another grueling drive to score another again with 4:30 left in the third quarter. The extra point was good and Cadillac went up 28-14.
Cadillac scored again with eight seconds left in the third quarter after Briggs scored on a 25-yard run. The extra point was good for a 34-14 Vikings lead.
The Wildcats’ offense was successful in fits-and-starts in the fourth. Pintar connected on a few good passes during Alpena’s first drive of the fourth quarter, but was eventually intercepted. Brooks capped Cadillac’s scoring with a 52-yard pass to Ethan Meyers with 9:05 left.
“We had a really good first half, but we let too many easy ones get by us in the second,” Skillman said.
Alpena travels to Traverse City West next Friday.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.