Turnovers crush Wildcats in lopsided road loss to Marquette

The first look at a new Big North Conference matchup was not pretty for the Alpena High football team as they opened up BNC play above the bridge against now conference foe Marquette and the Wildcats were on the receiving end of a 49-0 defeat.

The first half was a complete opposite performance of Alpena’s first 24 minutes in the season opener a week ago as the Wildcats (1-1, 0-1 BNC) turned the ball over on their first three possessions and it cost them dearly.

Marquette (1-1, 1-0 BNC) turned the ball over five times in a disappointing opening-season loss, but cleaned up the mistakes, while taking advantage of Wildcat turnovers as Alpena’s last six quarters of play have been brutal compared to their first two to begin the season.

Marquette wasted little time getting on the board, needing just five plays before Tucker Welch ripped off a 34-yard touchdown run to take an early 7-0 lead.

The Wildcats moved the ball on the ensuing drive, but quarterback Jake Zann was intercepted at the five-yard line.

Despite being pinned deep in its own territory, Marquette quickly moved down the field, again needing just five plays to go 95 yards and reach pay dirt when quarterback Jaxon Jurmu connected with Wyatt Lakenen for a 31-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 14-0.

The Wildcats coughed up the football twice, fumbling on their next two possessions and committing turnovers on all three of their first quarter possessions and trailed by two scores early.

“Everything that could have went wrong tonight did go wrong,” Alpena coach Eric Mitchell said. “Some of this is on us as coaches for not having guys prepared to play in the right spots, the other is on us mentally just making mistakes and we hurt ourselves all game long.”

Marquette took a commanding 21-0 lead early in the second quarter after Jurmu tossed his second touchdown of the half on an easy eight-yard pitch and catch to Kyle Sager.

Alpena put together its best drive of the game, but came up empty after a 13-play drive stalled out inside the red zone after running back Kaleb Donakowski carried defenders into the end zone, but not before forward progress was stopped and the play was blown dead and spotted at the five. The Wildcats went backwards and the drive ended after Zann was sacked and a pass fell incomplete as Alpena went into the half trailing 21-0.

The game continued to get more and more out of hand in the second half as the Wildcats failed to move the ball offensively and Marquette continued to use big plays to extend the lead as Jurmu threw another touchdown to Sager, this time from 32-yards out to extend the lead to 28-0 and then Jurmu called his own number and raced up the middle for a 60-yard score to push the Wildcat deficit to 35-0 and force a running clock midway through the third quarter as the Marquette signal caller capped off an efficient night finishing 11-for-15, throwing for 168 yards and accounting for four touchdowns.

Marquette added two more scores when backup quarterback Ford Richardson ran a 26-yard touchdown and 32-yarder to put an end to the lopsided contest.

“This one definitely stings and it’s going to hurt all weekend, but we’re going to try to quickly shift our attention toward Sanford-Meridian back at home next Friday,” Mitchell said. “We got banged up today, so we’ll take our time to recover and see where we’re at. We’re a lot better team than what we showed today.”