By Greg Gielczyk
HOUGHTON LAKE – Opening its regular season at home on an almost perfect night for football Thursday, Aug. 25, Houghton Lake certainly had enough offense but struggled to make the necessary stops on defense and lost the non-conference game to visiting Breckenridge, 38-29.
“I thought the kids played extremely hard,” Bobcats’ head coach Joe Holloway said. “It was a great game throughout, back and forth, and I was very proud of the way they performed. At the end of the night it was tough to lose that first game of the year.”
It was a close, competitive game in the first half. Houghton Lake led, 7-6 at the end of the first quarter and 13-12 at the half. Breckenridge received the second half kickoff and went down the field to score to take the lead, 18-13 after three.
That set up a wild fourth quarter that saw the Bobcats briefly retake the lead. But they found themselves down by three with four minutes left in the game and had Breckenridge pinned down in its own territory with a third-and-three only to be burned by a 70-yard touchdown run. The two teams combined for 36 points in the last period.
“We were in the ball game the whole time and we had a chance to win,” Holloway said. “We just needed to come up with a couple stops and we didn’t get them. There were definitely some very encouraging signs.
“Our passing game was good. When you’re getting almost 400 yards of offense, you feel very confident. We need to start making plays on defense and we’re going to get back to work on that. I think from Week 1 to Week 2 you get an opportunity in game situations to really readjust some things on your roster in terms of people starting in different positions. When you can identify your flaws and work to fix them, you got a chance to really improve.”
The Bobcats accumulated 374 yards in total offense. Junior quarterback Jackson Blanchard threw for 160 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-18 completions in a sparking debut at the signal caller’s position.
He also added two touchdowns rushing and finished as the Bobcats’ leading ground gainer with 118 yards on nine carries. Senior running back Gavin Masse, a returning All-State player, ran for 77 yards on 18 totes. Sophomore Robert Press had 11 yards and junior Garrett Lubaski contributed eight more on six tries. The Bobcats had 214 yards on the ground overall.
Junior receiver Seth Brandel caught five passes for 63 yards. Robert Press hauled in one for 48 and score, while junior John Steckler had four receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown.
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