PETOSKEY — It came down to a big goal-line stand for the Ludington football team to secure a 37-31 overtime win at Petoskey in the season opener for both teams Thursday night.
Aidan Gilchrist punched the ball in from 6 yards out for the game-winner in overtime for the Orioles. Ludington tried for 2 after the touchdown, but failed.
“Why not? Week 1, let’s just go right down to the wire,” said Orioles coach Charlie Gunsell. “It was a really good football game.
“We made some mistakes early, and they took advantage of it,” he said. “I thought, in the third quarter, we kind of started to dominate it a little bit. We let them back in. But the kids never, ever gave up. They never buckled. To win it on a fourth-and-1 on a goal line stand in overtime is pretty special for us.”
Ludington quarterback Trey Forfinski rushed 24 times for 181 yards, a 7.5-yard average, while Chase Hackert had 102 yards on 19 rushing attempts for a 5.4-yard average. Each had two touchdowns.
Hackert was 14-of-28 passing for 181 yards and two scores. Gilchrist led the receivers with four catches for 106 yards. Levi Laman caught a touchdown pass. He also led the defense with 19 tackles.
“Offensively, and I thought this going in, I really, truly believe we have some special kids playing skill positions for us,” Gunsell said. “All of them. There’s only one football, but I feel like we have kids that can make plays. I’m really proud of our offensive line. We’re kind of hard on those guys.”
Starting on the offensive line for the Orioles were left tackle Corbin Wagenmacker, left guard Will Luce, center Mike Nichols, right guard Charlie Gamble and right tackle Adam Keffer.
It was back-and-forth for most of the game until the Orioles seemed to take command, building a 35-19 lead with 11:57 left in regulation.
However, Petoskey climbed back into the game. The Northmen scored 12 unanswered points to tie it, 31-31, at the end of the fourth quarter before Gilchrist’s game-winning score.
The Orioles led 7-0 and 13-7 before the Northmen took a 19-13 lead with 3:25 remaining in the first half. It was the last time Petoskey would have the lead.
Ludington answered with three consecutive touchdowns and 18 unanswered points to vault into a 12-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
“I think, for us to drive 3 hours, come up here and be here all day, really, speaks volumes to the maturity of our football team, and the leadership of our football team,” Gunsell said. “We have lots to work on, like everybody coming out of Week 1, but it’s fun to work on things when you win.”
Ludington outgained the Northmen, 492-291 in total offense, 279-151 rushing and 213-140 passing.
“I thought they did just enough tonight, against a very aggressive, well-coached Petoskey defense,” Gunsell said. “We’ll get better. The two touchdowns Petoskey had in the first half were kickoff returns. We’re going to obviously spend a lot of time on special teams and get those things cleaned up.”
Ludington begins play in the new West Michigan Conference at Shelby on Thursday, Sept. 1.