A long time coming

LINCOLN-The Alcona football team gained something on Friday it hasn’t had in 21 years.

A win over Whittemore-Prescott.

Nathan Fettes scored on a two-yard run and Josh Mead caught a successful two-point conversion to give the Tigers a 28-26 win over the Cardinals in double overtime at Alcona High School.

The win gave Alcona (5-0, 4-0 North Star League) its first win over Whittemore since 1992 and leaves the Tigers as the only remaining undefeated team in the North Star League after Mio defeated Hillman 47-26.

“It’s unreal. Ever since my first year, we’ve worked day in and day out against this team right here. We took reps against them and in our downtime, we’d take reps against them,” Fettes said. “It’s just a great feeling.”

Carson Jamieson came up just short on a field goal attempt for Alcona in the first overtime and the Cardinals punched the ball in during the second overtime on a one-yard run from Mike Arndt. A conversion attempt was no good.

On Alcona’s next drive, which started at the 10-yard line, Josh Mead ran for five yards, Cody Franklin ran for two yards and Fettes finally punched in the winning touchdown on third down.

“My teammate said, ‘This is the game.’ I cut inside, powered through and just hoped I made it,” Fettes said.

Fettes finished with 65 yards on 15 carries and Franklin threw two touchdown passes on 3-of-6 passing for 85 yards.

In a game that turned largely into a defensive battle in the second half, Whittemore (3-2, 2-1 NSL) overcame a 14-0 first-quarter deficit and tied the game at 20 late in the fourth quarter after scoring on consecutive drives. Jens Gillings scored on a three-yard run with 8:30 left to knot the game at 14, but Alcona responded with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Franklin to Fettes to pull ahead 20-14 with 4:51 remaining.

Gillings needed just over two minutes to march the Cardinals down the field again and on the fifth play of Whittemore’s next drive, he launched a 43-yard pass into the waiting arms of Jose Rodriguez. A failed quarterback sneak on a conversion attempt left the game tied at 20 with 2:30 left in regulation.

Alcona punted on its next drive, giving Whittemore the ball with 50 seconds left. Despite several long runs by Gillings, Alcona’s Garrette Norling came up with an interception to send the game to overtime.

“We played great tonight. We started fast like we wanted to, played great defense. Every week we’ve kind of made some mistakes,” Alcona coach Dave Schneider said. “They (Whittemore) played great. They got in that double-wing formation and caught us a couple times.”

Gillings was 5-of-15 through the air with 193 yards passing, but was limited to 37 yards on the ground.

The Tigers limited the Cardinals to just 112 yards in the first half and took control of the game immediately. Franklin found Dawson Forsythe for a 44-yard touchdown and Norling ran in a conversion to give Alcona an 8-0 lead with 8:54 left in the first quarter.

Whittemore was limited to just four plays of 10 yards or more in the first half and was penalized several times in the opening quarter. With 9:23 left in the half, Franklin found paydirt from eight yards out, giving Alcona a 14-0 lead.

Franklin added 57 yards on 16 carries. Mead had 45 yards on nine carries. Travis Macdonald led Whittemore with 78 yards on 13 carries.

The Cardinals turned the ball over on downs on their next drive, but caught a break when Macdonald intercepted Franklin with less than four minutes left. Alternating handoffs between Macdonald and Arndt, the Cardinals marched 65 yards in seven plays and Arndt scored from two yards out with 1:27 left to leave the halftime score at 14-6.

The win not only puts the Tigers in the driver’s seat to win their first-ever conference championship, it also gives them important playoff points in determining postseason matchups.

“What a battle. I have a lot of respect for this team. We look at them as the kind of team we want to be,” Schneider said. “There’s no amount of value that something like this means to our program and we just have to make sure now there’s no letdowns.”

James Andersen can be reached via email at sports@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.