The Alpena football team had Friday night's game against Gaylord within their grasp at several points, but they couldn't get that final touchdown and dropped the game 20-13 to finish at 1-8.
Alpena celebrated Senior Night for the team, the cheerleaders and the band and this was the last high school football career of 18 Alpena seniors, including quarterback Brady Marwede.
"It was just fun playing with this team. We had some good kids. We might not have had the best season, but we had a great time out here. We got to play with the best friends we've ever had, one big happy family," Marwede said.
The key to Gaylord's victory was a two-minute stretch at the end of the first half. Neither team had scored, but a 31-yard option pass from Tristan Gregory to Jack Korte on 2nd-and-27 put Gaylord in good scoring position with 2:17 left in the half.
Gregory had 54 yards on the ground.
Gregory ran twice before quarterback Steven Fitzek hit Zach Pasternak for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 1:06 left in the half. The extra point was good and Gaylord was up 7-0.
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Fitzek hit 7-of-11 passing for 130 yards and two touchdown passes. Korte caught three passes for 88 yards while Zach Pasternak had 38-yards on two catches.
On the answering drive, Marwede threw an interception to Collin Watters with 57 seconds left in the half. Fitzek hit Foster for a five yard pass, scrambled for 10-yards with 12 seconds left and threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Watters to give Gaylord a 13-0 lead at halftime.
By comparison, the rest of the first half was uneventful for both teams. Gaylord received the ball, but couldn't get much momentum on the ground. Alpena defensive players like Brad Styma shut down the run and forced a punt with 8:23 left in the first quarter.
"We played hard and played tough. Going to have to come back next year and play harder. You can't blame (the loss) on those key people, we're all a team. We play together," Styma said.
The Wildcats almost scored on a Marwede pass to Tyler Pintar in the corner of the end zone, but the ball was dropped.
Marwede was 8-of-20 passing for 109 yards, one touchdown pass and an interception. He also rushed for 15 yards.
Jordan Ferguson rushed for 84 yards for the Wildcats.
Alpena finally scored when Marwede hit Pintar with a 35-yard pass for a touchdown with 8:23 left to go in the third quarter. The extra point was no good, leaving Gaylord ahead 13-6.
Neither team scored again until the fourth quarter and Alpena put in Pintar at quarterback with 11:05 left in the game.
Pintar immediately got results, throwing a 30-yard pass to Josh Bell that set up Alpena's last touchdown off a one-yard Pintar run. The extra point was no good, tying the game up at 13-13 with 7:47 left to play.
Pintar had five catches for 68-yards and was 4-of-8 passing for 42 yards.
Gaylord started taking to the air, which proved to be fatal to the Wildcats. Although Foster and Gregory continued to rushing yards, the Blue Devils picked up most of their yards in the air.
A 25-yard pass to Watters set up a five yard touchdown rush by Gregory. After kicking the extra point, the Blue Devils were up 20-13 with 4:07 to play.
Kaleb Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards, but it was called back. Dakota Patterson's 30-yard catch a few plays later put Alpena at midfield.
The Wildcats capitalized on good field position and several good Pintar passes. A 10-yard pass on 4th-and-7 set up a 15-yard Ferguson run that had Alpena in the red zone with 1:41 left to go.
Unfortunately, a fumble gave Gaylord the ball and enough time to end the game.
"We had a couple of calls go the wrong way and we lost that fumble. It hurt us. Those were the two keys to the game, the two turnovers we had," Marwede said.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.