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Alpena’s struggles remain in lopsided defeat against Traverse City West

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Alpena quarterback Ryan Voltz (2) gets pressured during a Big North Conference football game on Friday at Thirlby Field.

TRAVERSE CITY — If Friday’s meeting between Alpena and Traverse City West is their last meeting as conference foes and the final meeting for good, the Wildcats will be happy the series is over.

West put an exclamation point on the Big North Conference series, blanking Alpena, 40-0, at Thirlby Field.

Field position was a huge factor as four of the Titans’ eight possessions began in Alpena territory and three of them resulted in touchdowns.

“Special teams is what really hurt us tonight. The field position was huge tonight because I thought we did a good job early limiting them and not allowing big plays, but we gave up too much on special teams,” Alpena coach Eric Mitchell said.

The Wildcats (0-5, 0-3 BNC) were shut down and forced into a three and out on their opening possession.

Six plays later, West opened the scoring with an eight-yard touchdown run by Michael Schermerhorn.

Despite going three and out on their second possession, Alpena’s Christian Wicklund recovered a fumble and gave the Wildcats the ball back. Unfortunately, the drive stalled and Alpena turned the ball over deep in Titans territory

West led 7-0 after one quarter.

The wheels fell off in the second quarter as West found the end zone three times in three different ways: a 12-yard score from Schermerhorn, a 25-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Konchek to Garrett Schuler and a pick-six by Cody Oaks, who intercepted Alpena quarterback Ryan Voltz and went 54 yards the other way to give West a 27-0 halftime lead.

“We had chances early in to keep the game close. We were trailing by two scores early in the second and had a critical drive stall out and we failed to get a yard on a fourth and short late in the half and turned the ball over, then we threw the pick-six and it was a quick game after that,” Mitchell said. “They were stacking the box against us and we knew we needed to use the pop pass more in the second half and we had success there and we did a good job stopping sweep tonight, but we struggled to run the ball and along with the field position, that’s what hurt us tonight.”

West added a pair of scores in the third quarter: a seven-yard touchdown run by Reece Robertson and Konchek threw his second touchdown of the night, this time to Parker Kirschner for the final scoring play of the game as West put to rest a one-sided 25-year conference rivalry with a 40-0 victory.

Voltz finished the game 11-of-19 passing for 115 yards and an interception. Brady Niedzwiecki caught three passes for 53 yards and tight end Colt Gray hauled in three passes for 21 yards.

The Wildcats were held to just 50 yards on the ground and allowed Konchek and Schermerhorn to dice them up as the duo combined for over 200 yards of offense and accounted for four touchdowns.

Alpena will hit the road again next week, traveling to Gaylord for another conference tilt.

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