Bobcat miscues open door for Viking win
"I thought we were good enough to win," Bobcat Head Coach Floyd Carter said. "We made a few crucial mistakes that prevented that from happening."
In the first half, the first two Bobcats' drives ended in punts, another in an interception after a tipped ball and a fourth in a fumble that was returned by Grayling for an 81-yard touchdown. The Bobcats did put together a scoring drive between the interception and fumble that tied the score at 8-8 at the 11:30 mark of the second quarter. Grayling had scored on its first possession as the Viking's no huddle, spread offense went 81- yards in 10 plays that culminated in a 5-yard pass from Jimmy Osga to Dustin Russo for a score with 7:14 left in the first quarter. A 2- point conversion gave the Vikings an 8-0 lead.
On the Bobcats' scoring drive, Houghton Lake took over on their 46-yard line after junior linebacker Alex Rogers caused a Grayling fumble that was recovered by senior Mark Phelps. After a loss of yards on second down and an incompletion on third down, the Bobcats faced 4th-and-10. A 20- yard fake punt run by sophomore Jared Orban converted the fourth down and Houghton Lake was back in business on the Grayling 27. Junior Cliff Winkler broke loose on the next play to score and put Houghton Lake on the board. A 2-point conversion pass from quarterback Wade Garrett to junior Ricky Ancel was successful, notching the score at 8-8 with most of the second quarter remaining.
The Vikings started their next possession on their 20-yard line and moved the ball to the Bobcat 29 before the 'Cats stopped them on 4th-and-1. With 8:53 left in the half, the Bobcat offense went to work. With a mix of running and passing plays, including a 20-yard reception by Ancel and a 21-yard run by Rogers, the Bobcats moved the ball to the Grayling 9-yard line where they had a 1st-and-goal. A fumble on the next play was scooped up by Grayling's Geo Bindschatel and returned 91-yards for a Viking touchdown. A missed 2-point conversion gave Grayling a 14-8 lead - and the momentum - with 2:21 left in the half.
The half ended with the Bobcats in Grayling territory but not near the Viking goal line. However, despite the Houghton Lake miscues, the Bobcats trailed just 14-8 at the first half.
After the break, the Bobcat defense stopped a charging Grayling offense on three consecutive series. On the Viking's opening possession of the first half, Grayling moved the ball to the Bobcat 13-yard line before Ricky Ancel intercepted an Osga pass to end the drive. The Bobcats gave the ball back three plays later when a pass from Garrett was intercepted and Grayling took over on the Houghton Lake nine. The Bobcat defense then stopped the Vikings on four straight plays, including a 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line and got the ball back on the one with 7:37 left in the third quarter.
After Rogers ran the ball to the 5-yard line on first down, a Bobcat delay of game penalty moved the ball back and Houghton Lake was again operating out of its end zone. On the next play, Grayling recorded a safety when Garrett was called for intentional grounding while being chased in the back corner of the end zone by several Grayling defenders. The call, however, resulted from another Bobcat miscue. Carter said the Bobcats lined up in the wrong formation and when Garrett rolled out to pass, no receivers were there. Grayling was awarded two points and the ball for the safety. The Vikings led 16-8 with 6:27 left in the third quarter.
Grayling also got possession of the ball and took over on their 47- yard line and moved the ball to the Bobcat 24 on first down when Osga connected with Bindschatel for a 29-yard gain. After a bad snap and a loss of 15 yards, the Bobcats were able to stop the Grayling drive when junior Anthony Kolo broke up a fourth down pass by Osga.
Houghton Lake took over on the 30-yard line and moved the ball to the Grayling 40 before the Vikings intercepted the ball and took over on their 10-yard line. Three plays later Grayling's Tyler Hanson caught a shovel pass from Osga and broke loose for an 81-yard touchdown run. A failed 2-point conversion gave Grayling a 22-8 lead with 28 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The 'Cats were unable to get any offense going on their next possession and punted it back to Grayling, who fumbled the ball on their 14-yard line and gave Houghton Lake another scoring opportunity. The Bobcats converted a 4th-and-1 from the six as Rogers lugged the ball to the 2- yard line. With only two yards to go for a touchdown, the Bobcats were shut out on four consecutive plays and turned the ball over on 4th-and-goal from the 3 when a Garrett pass fell incomplete with 7:08 left in the game.
Grayling was able to take nearly three minutes off the clock before punting the ball back to Houghton Lake. The Bobcats took over on their 46 but were unable to mount a scoring drive. The game ended on Grayling's next possession.
While the miscues on offense contributed to the Bobcats' lack of scoring, the Bobcats were able to move the ball offensively.
"We were right there," Carter said. "[That's the] good, positive thing that came out of it."
Grayling finished the game with 356 total yards of offense, 74 yards rushing and 282 passing, while the Bobcats had 228 total yards. The 'Cats picked up 112 yards rushing and 116 yards passing.
Winkler led the Bobcats in rushing, picking up 53 yards on 13 carries and adding a touchdown. Orban had 40 yards on nine carries while Rogers had 24 yards on six carries. Carter said Winkler ran well and is "getting better and better." He also noted that Rogers ran the ball "very well."
Garrett completed 13-of-23 passes for 116 yards and three interceptions and Coach Carter said he thought Garrett played well in the contest. The Bobcat offensive line also had a better game, blocking well so the Bobcats were able to throw and run the ball, Carter said. He also praised the play of senior tackle Cody Parr who did "a nice job" starting for an injured Tyler Toms.
Ancel caught 10 passes for 78 yards to lead the Bobcat receiving corps while Winkler had five receptions for 15 yards, Bob McGuire had one for 15 yards and Charlie Bradley had one for eight yards.
Defensively, the Bobcats were led by Ancel and senior Jesse Blanchard, who, Carter said, "played his best game as a defensive player." Blanchard finished with 11 solo tackles and four assists while Ancel had five solo tackles, three assists and an interception. Kolo added six solo tackles and two assists while Orban had four tackles and one assist, Ryan Hacker had four tackles and two assists, Winkler had three tackles and three assists, Rogers had three tackles and one assist and McGuire had three tackles and two assists. In addition to Ancel's interception, Kolo, Orban, Blanchard and Hacker each had a pass deflection.
Junior D.J. Tharp also helped the Bobcats defensively. The 5'7", 145 pound Tharp played nosetackle to add quickness to the Bobcat defensive front. Tharp "did an outstanding job," Carter said. He ended the game with four tackles, including one for a 2-yard loss.
The Bobcats (0-2) begin Jack Pine Conference play Friday at home against Farwell (1-1). The Eagles recorded their first varsity football victory since Oct. 15, 2004 when they beat Coleman Aug. 28, 21-7. Last week, Farwell lost 42-8 to Evart.
"We're going to have to regroup and be ready to play," Carter said. "The bottom line is that we have to look at ourselves and get better down the line."
Kick-off is at 7 p.m. at Bobcat Field.
The Houghton Lake junior varsity squad picked up its first victory of the young season with a 27- 8 win over Grayling Sept. 4.
The Bobcats opened up a 7-0 lead at the half before going up 14- 0. Grayling responded with a touchdown in the third quarter before the Bobcats opened up the game with two more scores.
"As a team we executed well," Coach Tom Garrett said. He said Zane Backus, Nick Mainville and Michael Fuller played well offensively while Backus, Brandon Hodges and Ryan Rowley anchored the Bobcat defense.
The JV 'Cats suit up tonight (Thursday) against Farwell. The game starts at 6:30 p.m.