Chippewas still unbeaten, roll Cardinals 35-20

Manistee’s Bryson Jensen (center) powers his way into the end zone for a touchdown during the Chippewas’ 35-20 win over Muskegon Orchard View in the annual Homecoming Game Friday night. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

Manistee’s Bryson Jensen (center) powers his way into the end zone for a touchdown during the Chippewas’ 35-20 win over Muskegon Orchard View in the annual Homecoming Game Friday night. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Manistee sent its homecoming crowd home happy, and clinched at least a share of the Lakes-8 football championship, with a convincing 35-20 win over Muskegon Orchard View Friday night.

Manistee quarterback Trevor Johns ran for 192 yards, including two long touchdowns, and threw for another TD in the game, which went into the fourth quarter as a 1-point ballgame.

Johns said that he had this game circled on the calendar since the Cardinals (1-4 overall, 1-1 Lakes-8) handed the Chippewa JV team its only loss in Johns’ sophomore year.

“This is the one,” Johns said. “They got us, our perfect record was no longer perfect because of them. Man, it feels so good to finally beat them.”

Blake Mikula scored two touchdowns, one on the ground and another in the air, and Bryson Jensen ran for 67 yards and a score in the game.

Abdiel Nuñez celebrated his coronation as Manistee’s Homecoming King by successfully kicking his five extra-point attempts.

Chippewas head coach Troy Bytwork said that his team has all of their goals in sight, and more.

“The sky’s the limit, man,” Bytwork said. “We have the tools. For the first time in a few years we have some size up front. Our linemen work really well together, they’ve been playing together since their JV years, and they have over 20 games under their belt together. And we’ve got some speed.”

Manistee fell behind early when the Cardinals scored on a 32-yard, fourth-down pass that completed the first drive of the game and put Manistee behind 7-0.

The Chippewas came back with three unanswered touchdowns to take a comfortable 21-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

A key moment in the first half came late in the second quarter, with Manistee leading 14-7 but Orchard View driving for a potential tying score.

The Chippewa defense held fast on fourth down, taking over on their own 24-yard line with 5:39 left in the half.

After a holding penalty set Manistee back even further, Johns ripped off an 86-yard run to turn a potential tie game into a 2-touchdown lead at the break.

OV did not go away quietly, however, scoring on their first two possessions of the second half to climb right back into the game.

The second score came on a 26-yard pass that looked like the Chippewas had broken up, but the ball popped up and into the hands of OV’s Alexander Andrews in the end zone with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Cardinal extra-point attempt was no good, allowing Manistee to cling to a 21-20 lead going into the fourth.

Johns found Mikula on a slant pattern that Mikula took 59 yards for a score to stretch the lead to 28-20 with 6:26 left.

Just as in the first half, a defensive stand stopped a promising-looking Cardinal drive and gave the Chippewas the ball on their own 24, this time on an OV fumble.

Driving into the stiff wind, Manistee found itself with a third-&-11 situation, and OV called a timeout with 2:29 on the clock, hoping to force the Chippewas to punt into that wind and get the ball back in good field position for the potential tying score.

But Johns made any punt unnecessary, taking an option keeper 77 yards for the dramatic game-sealing score.

“That was a huge play,” Bytwork said. “They have a lot of time, and I don’t know how far we’re kicking that, maybe 10 yards net if we’re lucky. I don’t even know if I’m punting there.”

The win give Manistee its first league title since 1972, when they shared the top spot in the North Central “B” Conference with Cadillac. The Chippewas’ last outright conference championship was in 1961, when they went undefeated and finished second in the state in the final AP Class B poll.

With the win, the Chippewas improve to 5-0 overall, 3-0 in league play, and set up a matchup for all the conference marbles in two weeks with Muskegon Catholic Central.

Next up, however, is a non-league, neutral-site game at Alma College next Friday, Sept. 28 against Riverview Gabriel Richard.

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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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