Wildcats snap losing streak with 10-7 win over Gaylord
GAYLORD — It’s been nearly two years since the Alpena High football team celebrated a victory.
On Friday, the Wildcats put to rest all of the losing streaks and spoiled Gaylord’s homecoming as Sam Cook kicked a 21-yard field goal with 52 seconds left to propel Alpena to a 10-7 victory over Gaylord.
“This is going to propel us the rest of the way. We fought through adversity tonight, but like we’ve talked about, we had to find a way and we needed a win,” Alpena coach Eric Mitchell said. “This was long overdue. It was a battle tonight, we played physical all night, won the turnover battle and it’s just a really good feel right now. I’m happy for the kids, our staff and our entire program.”
The Wildcats (1-5, 1-3 BNC) shut down Gaylord (2-4, 1-2) and controlled the line of scrimmage much of the night and forced four Blue Devil turnovers. Alpena recovered three fumbles and intercepted a pass.
Kadyn Budnick led the Wildcat ground attack and offense with 131 yards and the lone Alpena touchdown on 20 carries, 117 of which came in the first half.
Budnick put the Wildcats in front just over two minutes into the second quarter when he broke off a 46-yard run, reversing field and finding pay dirt. Alpena held a 7-0 lead after a half of football.
The Wildcats were on the brink of taking a two-score lead into the break as they had the ball first and goal from the two with 32 seconds left and a timeout, but Ryan Voltz threw an interception in the final seconds of the half.
The interception was Alpena’s lone turnover in the game and it forced four. Budnick, Christian Wicklund and Gunner Spencer each recovered fumbles in the game and Luke Young intercepted a pass early in the second quarter.
Spencer’s fumble recovery came after Anthony Villeneuve stripped the ball free to give Alpena the ball with 2:44 left, which set up another chance for Cook to redeem himself after just missing a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter.
“We had confidence that Sam was going to make that field goal. When we recovered that fumble, we knew that they didn’t have enough timeouts to slow the clock down, so rather than try and get greedy and punch one in, we ran the ball up the middle and set ourselves up for a chance at the field goal victory,” Mitchell said. “We took the clock down as much as we could and sent Sam out to give us to win the game for us because we were confident our defense was going to hold on the final seconds and we did.”
Gaylord’s lone touchdown came late in the third quarter when Caleb Aungst called his own number in a quarterback sneak from two yards out to tie the game at seven with 2:57 left in the third.
Other than allowing the one touchdown, Alpena’s defense put together an inspired effort and limited Gaylord’s inefficient offense to just 95 yards in the game.
“I thought the defense played lights out tonight. Kudos to the kids for playing hard and putting together a good win this week,” Mitchell said. “For us this is great. It’s a great program win for us and I think it’s not just going to propel us the rest of this year, but into the future as well. We’re very happy to get a win.”