Vikings unable to sustain early success, fall to undefeated Gladiators 49-22

Strong start, but they weren’t able to keep it going. Grayling High School’s varsity football team led 14-8 vs. the Traverse City St. Francis Gladiators – a squad that was undefeated at 5-0 overall going into the contest – during Saturday’s varsity football game, but the Gladiators caught up, pulled ahead, and pulled away after the first quarter, and St. Francis won 49-22. Traverse City St. Francis hosted the contest at Thirlby Field.
Grayling received the game’s opening kickoff and started at its 12-yard line after the return. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Justin Nicholas threw deep to Chris Hunter for a 35-yard gain. A pass from Nicholas to Nick Hunter picked up 29 yards. Passes to N. Hunter, Logan Joseph, and Zack Osga gained nine yards. Nicholas, on 4th and 1, ran the ball and picked up enough for a first down. A pass to N. Hunter gained nine yards. On 2nd and 1, Nicholas ran the ball for a three-yard TD. Nicholas also ran the ball across the goal line for the two-point conversion.
With 9:24 left in the first period, Grayling led 8-0.
On 2nd and 3, the sixth play of the drive for Traverse City St. Francis, the Gladiators fumbled and Parker Dole recovered the ball for the Vikings at their 10-yard line.
On the first play of the resulting series, the Gladiators intercepted a Grayling pass attempt, giving Traverse City St. Francis the ball 39 yards from the end zone. St. Francis finished the drive with a 15-yard TD pass. The Gladiators ran the ball for the two-point conversion.
With 3:07 left in the first quarter, the score was Grayling 8, Traverse City St. Francis 8.
The kickoff resulted in a touchback, giving Grayling the ball at its 20-yard line. Runs by Nicholas and Osga gained enough for a first down. On 1st and 10, Nicholas threw to C. Hunter for a 65-yard gain; Hunter was ruled down at the one-yard line toward the end of the play. Nicholas ran the ball into the end zone on the next play. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
With 1:52 remaining in the first quarter, Grayling led 14-8.
The next two possessions – one for each squad – ended with punts.
Traverse City St. Francis drove 63 yards on 10 plays, scoring on a 15-yard TD run by the quarterback. The Gladiators kicked the extra point, but an illegal block penalty nullified the PAT. On the retry, back 15 yards, the kick was wide right. 
With 4:39 left in the first half, the score was tied at 14-14.
Grayling punted on 4th and 13; it was a short kick, and Traverse City St. Francis started 30 yards from the goal line.
The Gladiators’ quarterback rushed for 29 yards on 1st and 10. On 1st and goal, St. Francis rushed for a one-yard touchdown. The Gladiators kicked the extra point, giving them a 21-14 lead with 3:06 left in the second quarter.
On 1st and 10, Traverse City St. Francis forced a fumble and the Gladiators recovered the loose ball 10 yards from the end zone. They finished the short possession with a one-yard TD run on 4th and 1. Grayling blocked the extra point kick.
Traverse City St. Francis led 27-14.
On 3rd and 10, Grayling fumbled on a rushing play and the Gladiators recovered the ball with 3.7 seconds left on the first half clock. Traverse City St. Francis threw deep for a big gain, but did not get into the end zone.
At halftime, the score was St. Francis 27, Grayling 14.
Traverse City St. Francis drove 80 yards on 12 plays, scoring on a four-yard TD run on 1st and goal. After the two-point conversion, the Gladiators led 35-14.
Grayling drove from its 15-yard line to Traverse City’s 11-yard line, but the series ended on downs with an incomplete pass on 4th and 6.
The Gladiators finished a five-play, 89-yard drive with a 45-yard touchdown run. After the extra point kick, TCSF led 42-14.
Grayling started at its 21-yard line after the kickoff. A run by Osga gained 18 yards on 1st and 10. Later, Grayling punted on 4th and 20, but a roughing the kicker penalty on Traverse City St. Francis gave the Vikings a first down. A QB sack on the next play resulted in a seven-yard loss, and Nicholas left the game with an injury; he did not return to the contest. Joseph, now playing quarterback, passed to N. Hunter for a six-yard gain. On 3rd and 11, Joseph ran for 10 yards. Joseph rushed for one yard on 4th and 1 to keep the drive going. Runs by Osga and Joseph picked up another first down. Later, on 4th and 13, Grayling went for it and did not get enough for a first down.
Traverse City St. Francis punted on 4th and 7. N. Hunter returned the ball to Grayling’s 48-yard line, but he left with an injury after the play. He did not return to the contest.
Grayling drove 52 yards, scoring on a 10-yard TD catch by Leland Hunter. Joseph ran the ball into the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Grayling trailed 42-22 with 4:27 left in the game.
Traverse City St. Francis scored on a 59-yard run on 2nd and 1. The Gladiators kicked the extra point.
TCSF led 49-22.
Grayling punted on 4th and 13. Traverse City St. Francis ran three times, killing the final 2:13.
The Gladiators won 49-22.
“We were proud of our guys’ effort. We came out swinging, gave it our all, but just couldn’t sustain it. I believe this will catapult us going further, as we have found the intensity level we can get to,” Coach Tim Sanchez said.
Nicholas finished with 229 passing yards and two rushing TDs. Joseph ran for 33 yards and threw for one TD. C. Hunter had 130 receiving yards. N. Hunter had 91 receiving yards. L. Hunter had 23 receiving yards and one TD.
The Vikings (4-2 overall, 2-2 league) will host Elk Rapids (5-1 overall, 3-1 league) at Viking Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6. The contest will include homecoming festivities for Grayling.
Northern Michigan Football Conference
The Northern Michigan Football Conference – Grayling’s athletic league for football – has three tiers. Grayling is in the division called “Legends,” according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s online Score Center. The “Legends” division, also known as the large school division of the conference, includes Grayling, Kalkaska, Benzie Central, Boyne City, Cheboygan, Elk Rapids, Traverse City St. Francis, and Kingsley.
For the “Legends,” last week was the fourth round of conference games for 2017. 
At the end of it, two teams – St. Francis and Boyne City – were still undefeated in league play.
St. Francis won 49-22 vs. Grayling. Cheboygan defeated Benzie Central 50-30. Boyne City won 34-13 vs. Kalkaska. Elk Rapids won 27-21 vs. Kingsley in double overtime.
This week, Traverse City St. Francis will host Cheboygan. Grayling will host Elk Rapids. Kingsley will host Kalkaska. Benzie Central will play at Boyne City.
Last week’s scores and current standings for all three tiers of the Northern Michigan Football Conference, courtesy of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Score Center, are listed below.
Legends Division
Team, League, Overall
Boyne City .....................4-0 (6-0)
St. Francis .....................4-0 (6-0)
Elk Rapids .....................3-1 (5-1)
Grayling..........................2-2 (4-2)
Cheboygan.....................2-2 (3-3)
Kalkaska........................1-3 (3-3)
Benzie Central...............0-4 (1-5)
Kingsley..........................0-4 (0-6)
Last week’s scores:
Cheboygan 50, Benzie Central 30
Boyne City 34, Kalkaska 13
Elk Rapids 27, Kingsley 21 (2OT)
St. Francis 49, Grayling 22
Legacy Division
Team, League, Overall
Harbor Springs...............2-0 (3-3)
Gaylord St. Mary............2-0 (6-0)
Joburg-Lewiston.............2-0 (4-2)
Inland Lakes...................2-3 (2-4)
St. Ignace.......................1-4 (1-5)
East Jordan....................0-2 (1-5)
Last week’s scores:
Charlevoix 21, East Jordan 14
Hillman 34, Harbor Springs 7
Joburg 43, Inland Lakes 0
St. Mary 35, St. Ignace 22
Leaders Division
Team, League, Overall
Frankfort.........................1-1 (4-2)
Glen Lake.......................2-0 (3-2)
Charlevoix......................1-1 (1-4)
Mancelona.....................0-1 (0-5)
Last week’s scores:
Charlevoix 21, East Jordan 14
Glen Lake 48, Frankfort 34


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Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
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