Tigers meet their match

LINCOLN-Drew Marion had too many big plays in his arsenal for the Alcona football team to handle on Saturday.

Lake City’s senior quarterback ran for six touchdowns and threw for another as the Trojans breezed past the Tigers 56-14 in a Division 7 district final at Alcona High School.

Alcona (10-1) kept up with Lake City (10-1) early on and led 8-7 in the opening minute of the second quarter after touchdown run by Cody Franklin and a conversion by Garrette Norling. But ultimately the Tigers were hampered by a pair of costly turnovers and too many penalties, which gave an already dangerous Lake City offense more opportunities.

“We felt like we might matchup and we did initially and after that it’s high school football,” Alcona coach Dave Schneider said. “You get the ebb and the flow and the momentum changes addresses and we couldn’t get it back.”

Lake City advances to a regional final matchup with Ishpeming on Saturday. The Hematites beat Lake City 28-12 in the regional final last season.

Marion marched Lake City 66 yards on its opening drive and finished it with a three-yard touchdown run with 8:14 left in the first quarter. Several plays earlier an offsides call on Alcona on fourth down gave the Trojans a fresh set of downs and put them inside the Tigers’ 10-yard line.

Marion had 142 rushing yards on 18 carries and was 12-of-17 through the air for 172 yards.

Alcona answered back with a 16-play drive that lasted more than eight minutes and saw Alcona convert five times on third down in its march to the end zone. Franklin finally put Alcona on the board with a five-yard touchdown run and Norling’s conversion gave Alcona it’s only lead of the game with 11:22 left in the first half.

After a tradeoff of punts, the game turned into the Drew Marion Show as he orchestrated touchdowns on the Trojans’ next four drives. Marion found paydirt on runs of six, 33 and seven yards and found a jumping Dylan Allard in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown. In the last five minutes of the half alone, Lake City scored 28 unanswered points.

Alcona meanwhile had trouble moving the ball. The Tigers punted twice on their next four drives and turned the ball over on a fumble, which Marion turned into a 33-yard touchdown on the very next play.

The Tigers’ normally unstoppable running game was limited to about 250 yards on the ground and eight of Alcona’s 10 drives were five plays or less.

Nathan Fettes led Alcona with 134 yards on 13 carries, Josh Mead had 70 yards on 13 carries and Franklin had 53 yards on 11 carries to go with two scores.

Schneider praised his senior class-which included several four-year players like Fettes-for helping Alcona’s program turn over a new leaf.

“It was our first group when we got here and you always look at your first group and say, ‘Boy, we’ve got four years to get this together’ and that’s how we felt about it. They’re a wonderful group of guys,” Schneider said. “They’ve done a nice job, they had a great season.”

Any chances of Alcona getting back into the game ended on the Tigers’ first play of the second half as a fumble wound up in Lake City’s hands. The Trojans need just four plays to go 33 yards and Marion scored from five yards out to give Lake City a 42-8 lead with 10:30 left in the third quarter.

After Fettes broke through Lake City’s defense on the next drive for a 59-yard run, Franklin scored on a three-yard run two plays later to make it 42-14 with 9:30 left in the quarter.

Marion wasn’t done scoring just yet and burned nearly six minutes off the clock on the Trojans’ next drive before scoring on a two-yard run with 3:41 left in the quarter, giving Lake City a 49-14 lead. Lake City was helped by two key plays during the drive. The first came on a nine- yard catch by Kevin Kunkel, which was ruled a complete catch despite some protest. The second came two plays later when Alcona was whistled offsides, giving Lake City a first down at the 2-yard line.

After another Alcona punt, Jake Truesdale scored Lake City’s final touchdown of the afternoon, punching in a one-yard score with 7:44 left in the game.

Truesdale had 41 yards on 12 carries. Nathan Holl led Lake City’s receivers with four catches for 72 yards. Kunkel added 44 yards on four catches.

Alec Neumann led Alcona defensively with 15 tackles and Chad Cole had 12.

Lake City’s victory brought a close to arguably the finest season in Alcona football history. After ending a 12-year playoff drought last season, the Tigers entered the season with high expectations and met and exceeded them. Alcona recorded a 9-0 record in the regular season-the first varsity football team to do so and won the school’s first football division title. The Tigers toppled Whittemore-Prescott for the first time in 21 years and beat McBain last week for the school’s first playoff football win.

“This loss is not gonna sting anywhere near as much as the pride and the satisfaction they’re going to have for the rest of their lives over the season we had. Going 9-0, beating the teams we did this season and the way we did it, was huge,” Schneider said.

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