Alpena’s offensive woes continue in blowout loss
Two teams entered Saturday night with a chance to improve after a disappointing first week and earn a victory.
Unfortunately for Alpena (0-2, 0-2 Big North Conference), it welcomed an angry Traverse City West (1-1, 0-2 BNC) team that was embarrassed and the Titans took out their frustration on the Wildcats.
The Titans rolled in Alpena’s home opener, defeating the Wildcats 49-0 at Park Family Field at Wildcat Stadium, continuing its unblemished winning streak over Alpena.
Despite the final score, the Wildcats were doomed by missed opportunities.
Alpena forced the Titans to punt after a three and out on their first possession. On the ensuing drive, Alpena quarterback Ryan Voltz connected with Mason Mumford on a 28-yard pitch and catch to get the Wildcats into Titan territory. On the edge of the red zone, Alpena faced a fourth down and one and got stuffed, which stalled the drive.
The momentum changed in a hurry as one play later, Patrick O’Connor got around the edge and outraced a host of Wildcats down the sideline 79 yards and into the end zone to put West on the board late in the first quarter.
Alpena looked as if it was going to answer the Titan touchdown as they were driving, but missed a huge opportunity when Voltz missed a wide open Everett Zann in the middle of the field.
Instead the Wildcats were forced to punt and West responded with a 53-yard touchdown run from running back Christian Boivin and West held a 16-0 lead after one quarter.
“We knew that we had to come out early and play. That was our big thing, we talked about it over and over that we had to put pressure on them early and I think that we had our chances early, but a few plays really changed the game,” Alpena head coach Eric Mitchell said. “You look at the score, it doesn’t look like it, but I know that we got better from last week to this week. The score doesn’t necessarily show that, but in my head it was most certainly a closer game than what that score looks like.”
For the second week, Alpena failed to find its rhythm as it was held to just 141 yards of total offense.
Charlie Williams and Jason Smolinski were held to 32 yards and 27 yards respectively and Voltz was 7-of-20 passing for 47 yards and an interception.
After the Wildcats held West on its opening possession, the Titans scored on seven of their next nine possessions and put points on the board in nearly every way possible with touchdowns through the air and on the ground, a field goal and even a safety.
“We fell behind 28-0, we really felt like we hit that point where we weren’t going to stop running, but we needed to try and get large chunks. We were competing with the clock, not just the score and we needed to try to score quick so the game plan changed,” Mitchell said. “Kudos to West, they got a lot of pressure and run blitzed pretty well, but what really got us was once we started getting down, we became way to one dimensional.”
West held a commanding 35-0 lead at the half and had little issue moving the ball up and down the field, especially through the air as Titans quarterback Brandon Konchek was a perfect 11-of-11 passing for 125 yards with a pair of passing touchdowns. Konchek added a rushing score as well.
Boivin toted the rock 17 times for 147 yards and found pay dirt twice. O’Connor finished with 96 yards rushing on just three carries and added another 59 yards receiving on three receptions, two of which resulted in a touchdown as O’Connor finished with three scores on just six touches.
“Our offensive and defensive line played better, but what we talk about all the time is just doing your job. A lot of times we will have nine guys doing their job and two that don’t, you can’t win a football game like that. we have to continue working on making sure we’re doing our job, plain and simple,” Mitchell said. “It’s frustrating when you see so much going well and just a few small things not happening. We need to work on playing hard every single play.”
The Wildcats will look to build on its first full week of practice in two weeks with their head coach and look to snap its eight quarter scoreless streak on Friday when Alpena hosts Gaylord.
“It’s the Big North Conference. We obviously have a tough schedule. Without the non-conference games it’s a little bit tougher, but we’re excited,” Mitchell said. “We’re happy we have Gaylord and happy we’ll be back home. I’m just really excited I get a full week of practice with the guys. It doesn’t look like it, but I know we got better this week.”