Homecoming hardship

It didn’t seem to matter what the Alpena football team did on Friday. It was just one of those nights where not much went right.

Injuries, inconsistency and mistakes caught up with the Wildcats as Traverse City Central rolled past Alpena 45-0 during the Wildcats’ homecoming game.

Ethan Campbell had 160 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns and Central pulled away from Alpena (1-6, 0-4 Big North) in the second half, scoring on all four of its drives.

Alpena held Central in check early on, but the Wildcats couldn’t come up with enough big plays to keep pace offensively and saw many of its drives stall too early. The Wildcats were outgained 473-280 on the night and punted four times.

“I couldn’t believe the things that happened to us,” Alpena coach Mel Skillman said. “We had a good week in practice, but we played like we had never seen a game before and it was just one of those nights. Every time we turned around, we had a silly penalty or silly play.”

Campbell had touchdown runs of 41 and 29 yards and Drew Girard found paydirt from 50 yards and one yard.

Alpena found some success with its running game in the first half, but couldn’t compliment it with its passing game. Jordan Ferguson had a run of more than 20 yards on two first-half drives to help the Wildcats down the field, but rather than keeping with the run, Alpena often looked to pass the ball and killed the drives with incompletions.

The Wildcats gained 137 yards on the ground, led by Ferguson with 110 yards on 13 carries, but Central gained 323 rushing yards and found ways to slip past the Wildcats’ defense for big chucks of yardage.

“When you get behind a lot, you can’t just work on killing the clock. That’s the way it goes,” Skillman said.

It didn’t help Alpena any when Dylan Glennie went down with an ankle injury and didn’t return. Dylan Hoes was also banged up early, but returned to the game and had two catches for 30 yards.

Central led 17-0 at halftime after a field goal from Jake Gorter and two touchdown runs by Campell.

Alpena had some extra chances just before halftime, but couldn’t convert. On back-to-back drives, Ben Manning and Josh Bell recovered fumbles, but the first drive ended in a fumble recovery by the Trojans and the second drive saw the Wildcats turn the ball over on downs after six plays.

Central needed just four plays to score in the second half as Girard scored from 50 yards out to put the Trojans ahead 24-0. After Alpena punted on its next drive, the Trojans marched from their own 24 in nine plays and scored again after Sean Williams hooked up with Jephte Jean-Claude on a 17-yard pass.

Tyler Pintar was 14-of-36 passing for Alpena for 143 yards. Williams was 9-of-14 for 140 yards.

Alpena’s woes continued as Girard added another touchdown run and Eston Prather capped the Trojans’ scoring with a four-yard run with eight minutes to play.

Unable to get anything going offensively, the Wildcats fumbled on their second to last drive and ended the game with an interception.

The Wildcats travel to Petoskey next Friday and Skillman hopes his team can get healthier before the next game.

“The first thing we have to is see who’s healthy on Monday,” Skillman said. We had two or three guys get banged up tonight to add to the three or four guys we already had out.”

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