MANISTEE — Ludington held the upper hand for awhile, but Manistee gradually imposed its will on the Orioles and pulled away in the second half for a 41-12 victory in the Lakes 8 Activities Conference football game at Chippewa Field.
The win also meant the Chippewas (2-1, 1-0 Lakes 8) would keep the Dad’s Club traveling trophy in their clutches for a second consecutive year. It was Manistee’s second straight win, while the Orioles (1-2, 0-1 Lakes 8) lost for the second straight week after an opening win.
“I thought we played excellent first half. The kids had great energy, were in the right spots and were making plays,” Ludington coach Charlie Gunsell said. “Then we just started making mental errors.
“Five or six times we jumped offsides. You can’t do that against a solid ball club, and runs the ball like Manistee does. Giving them an extra down is a recipe for disaster.”
But it was the Orioles who ran the ball down Manistee’s throat on their first offensive possession. After receiving the opening kickoff the Orioles started on their own 15 and rolled over the Manistee defense for an 85-yard drive.
Senior running back Steve Weinert capped the march with a 5-yard touchdown run with 9:08 left in the first quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Orioles had drawn first blood, leading 6-0.
Ludington’s defense held the Chippewas to a three-and-out on their first series, but the Orioles had to punt the ball back when they couldn’t pick up the necessary yardage.
Manistee would have success on its next possession, marching 60 yards in nine plays to a 10-yard touchdown run by senior Connor Beaudrie. Luke Kooy’s extra point kick pushed the Chippewas ahead, 7-6 at the 3:13 mark of the first period.
Despite a penalty that negated a kickoff return for a touchdown, the Orioles recovered to take the lead again, 12-7, with only five seconds remaining in the first quarter on a 37-yard pass from junior quarterback Trey Forfinski to senior wide reciver Aiden Gilchrist.
The Chippewas responded with another long, time consuming march in the second quarter, going 63 yards in eight plays to sophomore Trevor Spencer’s 35-yard gallup with 9:29 left in the half and a 14-12 lead that they would not relinquish.
Beaudrie scampered 20 yards for another Chippewas touchdown with 4:29 remaining in the first half, and after the missed kick on the point after Manistee, carried a 20-12 lead into the intermission.
“They (the Orioles) got on us quick,” Manistee coach Troy Bytwork said. “Charlie’s offense is not easy to stop at times, because they are doing the same things we do.
“He’s got an athletic quarterback, and that kid is tough to get. We were on our heels. It was back and forth there for the whole first quarter, and some of the second. (The second half) things started to roll.”
Manistee used up a lot of clock in the third quarter, receiving the second half kickoff and driving 66 yards in 12 plays, finishing it with a five-yard TD run by Beaudrie at 5:30 of the third to make it 27-12.
Beaudrie scored again, this time on a 35-yard run with 6:03 left in the fourth quarter to extend Manistee’s lead to 34-12. Spencer ended the scoring with a 17-yard run with 2:35 left in the game. Ben Ceplina set up the score when he intercepted a pass and returned it to the Ludington 34.
“It’s just continually being physical for us,” Bytwork said. “We have size, we have a strong running back, we have a kid that can call a good game at quarterback (Andy Huber).
“When you’re leaning on people with weight, and strength, and time, that’s going to start to spring some things. That starts to show itself as the game wears on. I thought it did.”
Gunsell knew what the Orioles faced coming in.
“We knew they (the Chippewas) were better than us up front, and it clearly showed in the second half,” Gunsell said. “They started tossing us around a little bit, creating some lanes. We made some substitutions to try to change things up, because they were hitting us with traps and things of that nature.
“We started doing some gambles, some things that aren’t sound, and you get burned in the end. Good game for Manistee, and for us, we’re reeling.”