LINCOLN-The Alcona football team knelt around coach Dave Schneider Senior at the end of their 34-33 win over the Manton on Friday. Some held back tears while others openly wept.
The players' tears were understandable: the win on Friday guaranteed the Tigers a spot in the playoffs, the first time they've been in the playoffs in 12 years.
"I give all the credit to the kids and my assistant coaching staff, because they worked hard and they deserve it," Schneider said.
It wasn't an easy win for Alcona (5-2). It was a tough, brutal game that saw three of Manton's top players leave with injuries
Early on Manton running back Jacob Truesdale left the game after running 62 yards to set up an early Manton touchdown by Andy Weston for an early 7-0 lead.
Weston was the second of Manton's players injured in the game, leaving late in the quarter.
Alcona answered back on the next drive with a 15-yard touchdown run by quarterback Cody Franklin. Franklin earned 47 rushing yards on the night. Garrette Norling's two point conversion attempt was no good, to leave the score at 7-6.
Norling ran for 23 yards and caught one five yard pass for a touchdown.
Manton scored again with four minute left in the quarter with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Luke Shepler. The extra point brought the game 14-6.
A short Alcona drive was interrupted by a fumble recovery by Manton. Another long Manton drive followed and ended with a touchdown to put Manton ahead 21-6.
Alcona answered back with a 66-yard touchdown run by Nathan Fettes. Fettes ran for 143 yards for the night. The two point conversion attempt was no good and the score was 21-12.
Manton and Alcona both scored on their next drives and Alcona lucked out on its last drive of the half. With no time on the clock, Manton earned a facemask penalty. This set up one more play which ended with a touchdown and a successful two point conversion. The half ended 27-20.
The second half of the game was dominated by big defensive stops and two big Alcona touchdowns. Alcona scored in three plays on its first drive with a 26-yard touchdown by Fettes. After a successful two point, Alcona led 28-27 and led for good.
Manton suffered another injury late the third quarter when Rob Wilczewski was badly injured during a passing play.
Alcona scored again as time expired in the third quarter. The two point was no good and the game was 34-27.
Schneider praised Manton for its competitive spirit.
"They're a quality team that plays big opponents, like Beal City and McBain," he said. "My hat goes off to them for an excellent coaching staff and players who play excellent, clean football."
Manton drove down the field at the beginning of the fourth quarter, eating up a lot of time, but was stopped on the one-yard line.
Manton drove down the field again later on, but this time it scored on a touchdown pass to Jesse Weinrick. The score was now 34-33.
Manton coach Jeff Puffer gambled on a win by going for a two point, but Alcona stopped the attempt to secure the win.
Puffer took full responsibility for the decision to go for two and praised his team for its play.
"I decided to go for the win because in this situation it's win or go home," Puffer said. "We played against a lot of adversity, including injuries and players moving to new positions. They never stopped playing hard."
Alcona ends its regular season next Friday at Saginaw Buena Vista.