Defense, special teams help Cats in homecoming win
Thanks to an 85-yard kick off return by junior Jared Orban to start the second half, the 'Cats turned a 14-0 halftime lead into the 21-point win on homecoming night before a packed home crowd.
Coach Floyd Carter said he was happy with his squad's defensive performance, but was not pleased with the execution of his offense.
"Good teams play good defense," Carter said, noting the 'Cats shut down a "good G's team." He praised the play of the front line and secondary, singling out Bobcats Mason Boals, Alex Rogers, D.J. Tharp and Bob McGuire.
Offensively, Carter said the Bobcat squad - which finished with 161 offensive yards - did not "do the job we needed up front." He did note that quarterback Wade Garrett threw the ball well when he had the chance to and senior running back Cliff Winkler and Orban ran well.
After the G's moved the ball 59 yards on their opening drive, they turned it over on the Houghton Lake 21-yard line. The Bobcats moved the ball to their own 43-yard line and then committed their first fumble of the game. Gladwin returned the favor on their next play with Brenen Bowman picking up the loose ball. Houghton Lake was unable to use the miscue to their advantage as Garrett was intercepted with the Bobcats on the Gladwin 20-yard line at the start of the second quarter.
Gladwin aided the 'Cats on the first play after the interception when they fumbled the ball back to the 'Cats and it was picked up by Ethan Gerdes. The Bobcats were able to use the mistake to their advantage when Garrett hit Orban for a 7-yard touchdown strike on the next play. With a PAT kick by Zack Kauffman, the Bobcats took a 7-0 lead at the 11:39 mark in the second quarter.
Following the Houghton Lake touchdown, Gladwin moved the ball to their 33-yard line before Gerdes got his second fumble recovery of the night and got the ball back for the 'Cats. Houghton Lake was not able to find the end zone after starting the drive on Gladwin's 40- yard line as a 4th-and-9 pass fell incomplete.
Gladwin took over on their 24-yard line but was forced to punt four plays later, giving the 'Cats a 1st-and-10 on the 47. After a direct snap on 4th-and-8 to Orban that picked up a first down, Houghton Lake scored when Winkler busted loose up the right side for a 35- yard touchdown. A Kauffman PAT gave the 'Cats a 14-0 lead with 3:32 remaining in the half.
After a punt by the G's on their next possession, Houghton Lake drove the ball from the 49-yard line of Gladwin to the 11-yard line as time was running out in the half. Kauffman's attempt at a 27- yard field goal missed its mark and the G's got the ball on their 20-yard line and time expired in the half.
Following the half, Orban got the Bobcats rolling with an 85-yard kick off return for a touchdown. Kauffman hit the PAT and Houghton Lake led 21-0 with 11:41 left on the clock in the third quarter.
Neither team would get much going in the second half as Gladwin would punt on three possessions, throw an interception on another and have the game clock run out on their final possession. The Bobcats punted three times and turned the ball over on downs once.
Overall, Houghton Lake had 64 yards rushing and 97 yards passing. Winkler had 84 yards on 15 carries while Orban had 14 rushing yards to go along with his 85 yard kick off return and 29 yard interception return. Garrett had six carries for the 'Cats and ended with -37 yards rushing. He was 10-of-17 passing for 97 yards, a touchdown and one interception. Ricky Ancel led the Bobcats with 58 receiving yards while Orban had 32 and Winkler had seven.
The Bobcat defense was anchored by 12 total tackles by Boals, seven solo and five assists. Rogers had six solo tackles and two assists while Winkler had five solo tackles and two assists. Tharp and Ancel each had three solo tackles with Ancel adding two assists and Tharp one. A total of 24 Bobcats recorded tackles in the contest. McGuire, Rogers and Winkler each had tackles for losses with Gerdes, Winkler and Bowman notching fumble recoveries and Orban picking off one pass. The 'Cats held Gladwin to 124 total yards, 17 passing and 107 rushing.
The Bobcats improved to 3-0 in Jack Pine Conference play with the win and are 4-1 overall. Gladwin falls to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the JPC.