Back in his element

Mochty plays big in return, leads Tawas past Alcona

News Photo by James Andersen Alcona quarterback Zach Stephenson (16) runs toward the end zone while being pursued by Tawas defenders Braeden Barnes (15) and Skylar Huggard during the first quarter of a football game on Thursday at Alcona High School. Stephenson scored on the play, a two-yard run, for Alcona's first touchdown of the season.

LINCOLN–Dillon Mochty has waited a long time to get back out on the football field.

The Tawas junior looked like he hadn’t missed a beat Thursday.

Mochty threw 231 yards and four touchdowns to lead Tawas past the Alcona football team, 48-24, on Thursday at Alcona High School in the season opener for both teams.

After missing all of his sophomore season due to injury, Mochty looked like a season veteran under center on Thursday. He was right on the mark with his passes and found receivers in stride over the middle as easily as he found them downfield for long gains.

Mochty connected on seven out of the eight passes he threw and three of his touchdown passes went for 45 yards or more.

“Their quarterback is real nice. He put the ball right where it needed to be. Our game plan was to stop the sweep and the counter and we did that pretty effectively in the first half,” Alcona coach Jason Somers said. “But we said they’d have to beat us in the air and by golly, they executed that pretty well.”

Camden Groff had two catches for 97 yards and two scores to lead Tawas and Logan Fiske led the Braves’ ground attack with two touchdowns.

Tawas was a perfect 7-for-7 on its offensive drives for the night and amassed 383 total yards.

Alcona matched Tawas touchdown for touchdown for most of the first half, but the Braves were able to pull away after a late touchdown pass and their ability to convert both two point conversions and PATs.

Alcona scored three times in the first half, but couldn’t convert the two-point attempt after any of those scores.

“We moved the ball well in the first half and got banged a little bit in the second half.,” Somers said. “We’ve got guys playing out of position; small-town football (with) 15 guys, they did a whale of a job.”

Mochty showed off his arm early and connected with Groff on a 45-yard pass on Tawas’ opening drive. Alcona responded with a long drive that ended in a two-yard touchdown run by Zach Stephenson to make it 8-6 late in the first quarter.

A five-yard run to paydirt by Fiske made it 15-6 with 9:34 left in the first half and again Alcona answered, this time with a 13-yard run by Dominic Howe to make it 15-12.

Fiske had 47 yards on nine carries and three total touchdowns.

Mochty found holes in Alcona’s offense early and exploited them twice more before the end of the half. He needed two plays to find Fiske for a 62-yard score with 5:35 left and he hooked up with Groff again from 52 yards out with 31 seconds to go.

Sandwiched between those was a six-yard touchdown run from Howe to make it 22-18 with 1:45 left.

Howe led Alcona with 144 yards on 27 carries.

Defensively, Damion Stewart led Alcona with seven tackles and Stephenson, Howe and Logan Witham added five each.

The Tigers got the ball to start the second half, but they turned the ball over on downs their first two drives and Tawas responded with touchdowns to take command of the game.

Fiske found the end zone again on a two-yard run with 6:09 left in the third quarter and Mochty found Noah Davis for a 33-yard score with 2:42 left, giving Tawas a 41-18 lead after another successful PAT.

Howe scored his third touchdown of the night with 9:07 left, capping a long Alcona drive with a 10-yard run to the end zone to make it 41-24.

Tawas completed the night’s scoring on its next drive when Chase Callahan scampered 35 yards to paydirt a few minutes later.

After coaching a senior-heavy team last season, this year will be a different one for Somers and his staff as young players get acclimated to varsity football. Alcona started several sophomores on Thursday, some of whom were getting their first varsity starts.

“We started a bunch of sophomores tonight and they did a really nice job. I’ve got some guys who’ve never played varsity football due to the senior-heavy team we had last year,” Somers said. “To see them come out and fight tonight and play out of position and continue to play all the way through, the future looks pretty bright.”

Going into Thursday’s game, the Tigers had won six of their last seven openers. Despite the loss to the Braves, Somers reminded his team that the football season is just starting and there’s still a lot to play for.

“Football’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon and there’s eight weeks left. We’ve gotta prepare for week two,” Somers said. “We don’t worry about three and four and five. I told them to bond together and unite and good things happen.”