Mistakes and big plays cost Cheboygan a road loss at Sault Ste. Married

SAULT STE. MARY – The momentum was there for the Cheboygan Chiefs at halftime.

After a long touchdown, which was then followed by a great defensive play, the Chiefs were in business, trailing only 14-8 in Sault Ste. Married.

However, the one big problem the Chiefs haven’t been able to solve so far this season – limiting big plays – has haunted them again.

Once the Chiefs gave up those big plays at key moments, they couldn’t stay within striking distance of the Blue Devils, who improved to 3-0 with a 35-8 home win on Friday night.

“We gave up big plays on defense, it hurt us,” Cheboygan coach Dave Schulz said. “Offensively, again, we had some great shots, but we didn’t finish those shots in the end zone, we didn’t execute well enough, and the Sault won.

“You play against good teams, good teams capitalize when you make mistakes, and that showed today.”

Just when the game seemed to be going in Cheboygan’s favor to start the third quarter, Sault senior comeback Alex Jacek went wild and drove deep into Chiefs territory to start the half. A few plays later, junior halfback Ryver Ryckeghem scored the third of his four touchdowns on the night with an eight-yard run, while a 2-point conversion put the Blue Devils up 22-8.

As the Chiefs (1-2, 0-1 Northern Michigan Football League Legends Division) gained momentum with a long TD drive capped off by a yard score from senior tailback Seth Flores at the end of the first half, their offense battled the rest of the way against the Blue Devils defense (3-0, 2-0), who halted Cheboygan’s rushing attack and kicked off a shutout in the second period.

Cheboygan senior Seth Flores (7) looks to find ground late in the first half against Sault Ste.  Mary on Friday.  Flores scored the Chiefs' lone touchdown in a loss to the Blue Devils.

“I thought for us it was our most complete game we’ve played this season,” Sault coach Scott Menard said. “We didn’t play well against Grayling the week before, and we played a good second half against Escanaba. I think we played well. To be honest, we only ran 10 games in the first half and got 14 points, but I think our defense did a good job. It’s a tough attack to defend, and they (Cheboygan) were giving us fits. We made some adjustments at half-time on both sides of the ball, and I’m really happy with how we got on with it.

“I thought Alex Jacek’s kickoff return to start the second half was a massive play, and we just picked up the momentum from there.”

Cheboygan junior quarterback Caden Gardner (5) throws out during the first quarter at Sault Ste.  Mary Friday night.

The Blue Devils used a nine-yard score from Ryckeghem late in the third, then ended the game with a six-yard touchdown throw from junior quarterback Callen Campbell to senior receiver Max Scott, making it a commanding 35 -8 Sault advantage with about six minutes left.

It was a bright start to the competition for the Chiefs, who forced a three-and-out on Sault’s first possession. But after the Chiefs were unable to capitalize on strong ground possession, they mishandled a punt into their own territory, giving the Blue Devils short ground. The Blue Devils, who seemed stuck on their first offensive possession, immediately came to life when Ryckeghem escaped for a 30-yard score that put the home side up 6-0.

With the touchdown, the Blue Devils gained momentum, who saw Ryckeghem explode again with an 80-yard score on the very next possession that helped build Sault’s lead to 14-0 with 10 minutes left. do before halftime.

“We had to be on our game, but we knew we could move the ball, we could make enough plays to win the football game, but we missed some practices and made some mistakes, but the kids keep playing. tough and that’s what we ask as coaches,” Schulz said.

Cheboygan senior Keegan Mosher (33) and junior Jacob Seaman (1), along with other teammates, celebrate an interception by senior defensive back Isaiah Ming (8) late in the first half in Sault Ste.  Mary on Friday.

Despite the Sault’s slow start, Menard praised his team’s ability to stick to the game plan and not get rattled.

“We have a group of kids who have been in college for two or three years – they’ve seen a lot of games and a lot of situations,” Ménard said. “We don’t worry about situations where we’re down because we’ve been in a few of those situations this season. We’ve been there before, we have good leaders, and it showed again tonight.

The Chiefs, who made just 161 total offensive yards — all rushing — were led by 43 rushing yards from Dylan Balazovic, 41 from Keegan Mosher, 31 from Cody Lane and 25 from Flores, who scored the touchdown.

“He works hard,” Schulz said of Flores. “We have some of the other running backs that go both ways. Beau Ginop is injured and we’re just trying to get some fresh legs and bodies out there that can chew up yards, and I think (Flores) did a good job of getting some of those carries.

The Chiefs finished the competition with two turnovers.

Shorthanded with several key players out with injury – including senior linebacker Gauge Ginop – Cheboygan’s defense was led by seven tackles each from Devihn Wichlacz, Price Warner and second Sean Postula, who was called up of the junior varsity team for the game.

“These (injured) guys were in for a reason, but I’m proud of the guys who came and played,” Schulz said. “I think they filled in nicely, they had some great games. I thought Sean Postula was coming in (from JV), I thought he definitely started making plays right after, and some other guys Devihn Wichlacz, I thought he had a big game ahead, more responsibility on him, and (the Sault) was just a team that capitalized on some of our mistakes. That’s how it went. .

Cheboygan junior Kaleb Goodrich (4) looks to pass Sault Ste.  Dajon Willis (9) of Marie on a first quarter kickoff return.  Blocking Goodrich is senior teammate Eli Couture (11).

Isaiah Ming, who gave the Chiefs momentum at halftime with an interception in the end zone, made six saves, while Jacob Seaman also had six tackles. Kaleb Goodrich had four tackles, Luke Munger and Balazovic each had three, Tommy Jones and Lane added two each, and Nick Rocheleau, Mason Baiel, Michael Beck, Hunter Schaefer and Mosher added one each.

Along with his four touchdowns, Ryckeghem carried 15 times for a game-high 123 yards to lead the Blue Devils, who received 41 passing yards from Campbell.

“We have a good mix of backs,” Ménard said. “We’ve got some nice full-backs, we’ve got some kids who can put you on edge, we’ve got a quarterback (Campbell) who’s always a threat, whether it’s the legs or the arm, so I think between the backfield guys – who are brand new from last year – I think we really stuck to the game plan that we really wanted to use tonight.

Cheboygan players and coaches watch late in the first half against Sault Ste.  Mary on Friday.

Cheboygan continues the NMFL Legends game when he hosts Ogemaw Heights at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16 at Western Avenue Field.

Sault Ste. Marie, who beat Cheboygan for the eighth straight time, will be looking to stay undefeated when she faces Sault Ontario (Superior Heights) in non-conference action next week.

In junior varsity action, Cheboygan earned a 40-0 home win Thursday against Sault Ste. Married.

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