Coming back home this week after two weeks on the road, the Alpena football team was hoping for a big boost in from of its hometown crowd.
It didn't take Traverse City West very long to deflate whatever good feelings the Wildcats might have had.
West handed Alpena its fourth loss of the season on Friday at Wildcat Stadium, winning 42-0 in a game where the Wildcats (0-4) gained just 113 offensive yards and had three of their drives end in interceptions.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena defenders Jacob Kline (14) and Tyler DeCare chase down Traverse City West running back Griffin Forrester during the first half of a football game on Friday at Wildcat Stadium.
The Titans (3-1), by contrast gained 379 yards, scored on four drives in the first half and overcame two turnovers. In the second half, West scored on its first two drives and had a short field to work with most of the night.
"They're a good football team, we knew that coming in. We knew that Week 3 and Week 4 were going to be really tough with Central and West back-to-back," Alpena head coach Jason Dubey said. "In the beginning of the game, we gave them too many short fields and the inability to get first downs and giving them the ball on turnovers, we put ourselves in a bad situation."
West scored on its first drive with a 10-yard run from Matt Kirkey and followed that up with a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Donny Cizek to Dustin Tucker to give the Titans a 14-0 lead with 4:41 left in the first quarter..
The Wildcats' defense came up with a pair of interceptions on West's next two drives as Chandler Bloom and Tyler DeCare came up with picks. Both drives however set Alpena back deep in its own territory and the Wildcats punted both times.
Dubey was impressed with the play of his defense, especially in the first half, but lamented the wasted opportunities after Alpena was forced to punt after forcing turnovers.
"Our defense battled. They got two picks in that first half. They got the ball back, we just didn't get any first downs and didn't give ourselves a chance to put them on their heels," Dubey said.
West got its offense going again late in the second quarter and scored on back-to-back drives. Cizek found paydirt from 19 yards out with 5:49 left and then after an Alpena interception, Griffin Forrester scored on the first and only play of the Titans' next drive, reaching the endzone on a 24-yard run with 4:01 left to push West's halftime lead to 28 points.
Forrester gained 110 yards on 11 carries and Cizek was 10-of-17 through the air for 145 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Brady Marwede was 11-of-24 for 65 yards and three interceptions while Dakota Patterson led Alpena on the ground with 43 yards on 12 carries. Cade MacArthur added 23 yards on nine carries and Kaleb Smith was Alpena's leading receiver with three catches for 23 yards.
Playing a second straight week without leading running back Ashton Dever, the Wildcats had still stretches were they ran the ball well, something Dubey was pleased with.
"I thought Dakota Patterson and Cade MacArthur did a good job," Dubey said. "That's probably the best we've done running the ball inside without Dever."
The Titans opened the second half by scoring on their first two drives to push their lead to 42. Cizek found Grant Balino over the middle for a 22-yard touchdown with 8:37 left and then Noah Malaski scored from 27 yards out with 2:06 left in the third quarter.
Alpena continued to struggle offensively and punted on its first two second-half drives before Jake Guyon intercepted Marwede late in the fourth quarter.
Dubey told his team to keep working hard in the postgame huddle as Alpena prepares to play Gaylord on the road next week.
"I told them to keep their heads up and keep working. I told them I love them and we'll get ready for next week," Dubey said.