Chippewas fall to McBain

 

Manistee’s Ian Pinkerton pulls down McBain quarterback Logan Eling (3) during the Chippewas’ 26-16 loss to the Ramblers on Thursday. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

Manistee’s Ian Pinkerton pulls down McBain quarterback Logan Eling (3) during the Chippewas’ 26-16 loss to the Ramblers on Thursday. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — In what may end up being a familiar refrain this season, Manistee’s undersized offensive and defensive lines struggled against a much bigger opponent in the season opener, a 26-16 loss to McBain Thursday night.

Despite the size difference, the Chippewas were within striking distance late, but key fumbles, real and imagined, snuffed out any chance of a comeback.

“It was a good game,” Manistee head coach Tod Miller said. “If we play each other 100 times, it would probably end up 50-50, (decided by) whoever makes the fewest mistakes. That was two pretty evenly matched teams out here.”

It looked like it was going to be a shootout early, as both teams scored touchdowns on their first possessions.

Tai Allen gave Manistee the lead on the third play from scrimmage in the contest, taking a third-down keeper 53 yards for a touchdown.

McBain responded with a methodical 10-play, 72-yard drive, all on the ground and almost completely between the tackles, capped off by a 4-yard quarterback sneak by Logan Eling. The Ramblers missed the extra point, and Manistee clung to a 7-6 lead with 5:56 left in the first quarter.

The Chippewa offense stalled for most of the rest of the first half, due in large part to McBain’s dominance at the line of scrimmage, for which Manistee had little answer.

“Their line averages 308 (pounds),” Miller said. “On our line, we have (Austin) Bachinski who maybe goes 205, and that’s our biggest defensive lineman. Connor Madsen goes 155 at defensive end. We’re outmanned by 120 pounds.”

The Ramblers put together another 10-play scoring drive, taking the lead on a 14-yard keeper by Eling that made the score 12-7 early in the second quarter.

Nick Harthun kicked a 33-yard field goal with 6:24 left in the second quarter to cut the Rambler lead to 12-10 at the half.

The Chippewa defense stepped up after the break, forcing McBain to punt on their first possession and appeared to have held them on the second, but for a controversial pass interference call on third-and 13 that gave the Ramblers new life.

“That was a terrible pass interference call,” Miller said. “With today’s video systems, you can watch it right away on video, and it was a terrible pass interference call. Officiating has to be accountable at some point, and that’s poor officiating.”

McBain took full advantage, stretching the lead to 18-10 13 plays later, but their 2-point conversion attempt failed, keeping it a 1-possession game with 47 seconds left in the third.

After a bad snap on a McBain punt attempt gave Manistee the ball in Rambler territory, Allen hooked up with Andrew Pierson on the next play from scrimmage on a 38-yard touchdown pass that cut the lead to 18-16.

But momentum was short-lived, as Eling found Emmitt Bronkema on a 60-yard bomb two plays later. The 2-point conversion made it 26-16 with 7:00 left in the contest.

Mayan Liston gave Manistee a golden scoring opportunity when he ran the ensuing kickoff all the way down to the Rambler 16-yard line. Manistee got close to the goal line, with two shots at the end zone from the McBain 1-yard line. Allen’s first sneak attempts was ruled to have been stopped, and the second ended the threat when he was ruled to have fumbled before crossing the goal line.

“That was a fumble, that was a good call,” Miller said. “The one before it wasn’t a good call, it was a touchdown, hands down.”

The Chippewas still did not quit, and held McBain 3-and-out on the next possession. Allen fielded the ensuing punt, was tackled at the Chippewa 37, but when the ball squirted loose after he was clearly down, the referees awarded the Ramblers the ball and effectively ended the contest.

Allen ran for 90 yards in the game and threw for 58 more, with one touchdown and one interception, accounting for 148 of the Chippewas’ 217 total yards.

Despite the sometimes mystifying officiating, Miller refused to use it as an excuse.

“I’m not blaming the officials (for the loss),” he said. “We have to rise up, we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that situation to begin with.

“Our technique was horrible. The line has to get better on both sides of the football. They have to work harder. It only comes through hard work and dedication, and we need to see it.”

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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