LUDINGTON — Ludington only had the ball three times in the first half and led by just 10 points in Friday night’s showdown with Manistee.

But the Orioles, who lost to the Chippewas, 41-12 last year, pulled away in the second half for a 45-21 win in the West Michigan Conference-Lakes contest. The game marked the annual homecoming game for the Orioles.

The victory snapped Ludingto’s two-game losing streak to the Chippewas, and brought the Dad’s Club Trophy back to Ludington.

“Manistee did a tremendous job keeping the ball away from us in the first half,” Ludington coach Charlie Gunsell said. “In the second half we started getting a few more possessions, were able to put some points on the board and got just enough stops.

“It was a special night here for homecoming, so we’re pretty thrilled,” Gunsell said. “The guys have the Dad’s Club Trophy out there touring Ludington with it. Manistee’s got a nice club. They do what they do, and they do it as well as they can do it. I just felt that tonight we had a lot of things offensively we could go to to put points on the board.”

Miles Wilson kicked a 25-yard field goal with 7:27 left in the first quarter to give the Orioles a modest 3-0 lead, but a Manistee turnover presented Ludington with a golden opportunity to put seven on the board.

Daniel Rameriez recovered a Chippewas’ fumble in the end zone and Wilson’s kick boosted Ludington’s lead to 10-0 with 11:56 left in the second quarter.

Ludington coach Charlie Gunsell (Photo/Joe Washington)

The Chippewas were able to answer, however, when quarterback Jeff Huber connected on a 20-yard scoring strike to Nick Hornkohl and Caius Johns kicked the extra point. That made it 10-7 with 11:56 to play in the first half.

But the Orioles came back, scoring on a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chase Hackert to Nathan Gilchrist. Wilson’s extra point boosted the Orioles lead to 17-7 at the half.

David Shillinger scored on a 45-yard run at the 6:01 mark of the third quarter and Wilson added the point after to increase the Orioles lead to 24-7.

Late in the third quarter, Manistee climbed to within 24-13 on a 5-yard run by Kaden Kott, but the point after was no good.

Ludington opened the fourth quarter with a 5-yard run by Trey Forfinski with 11:56 remaining. Wilson’s extra point made it a 31-13 game.

“We just had trouble setting the edge on them,” Manistee coach Troy Bytwork said. “They did what they wanted to do. There were moments offensively we had a few long drives, which is what we like to do. So, from that standpoint, I was happy. But a couple turnovers, and we couldn’t get any stops, and that put us in a pretty tough spot, chasing the score all night.

Photo courtesy of LSJ photographer Joe Washington

Manistee scored its final touchdown with 6:39 left in the game when Hornkohl went in from 1 yard out, and he also caught the 2-point conversion pass which made it 31-21.

But the Orioles scored twice more before the night was over. Hackert completed a 66-yard strike to Gilchrist and Shillinger bolted 27 yards for the last one at the 2:48 mark.

Ludington had 406 yards of total offense to 209 for Manistee.

Hackert was 7-of-9 passing for 148 yards and two scores. Gilchrist caught three balls for 100 yards and a touchdown. Levi Laman had two receptions for 34 yards.

Forfinski rolled up 131 yards rushing on 17 attempts with one touchdown, while Shillinger had just three touches for 83 yards and two scores.

“We really hit the edges well tonight,” Gunsell said. “In our offense, the edges are a lot of what we do. Shillinger’s probably got a little extra gear than most kids.

“I thought we did a good job of taking care of the ball, and executing the game plan,” Gunsell said. “Sometimes you get into these games and the plans go out the window. But, the kids really stuck to the plan, and the staff stuck to the plan. Defensively, we got the stops when we needed to. Manistee just grinds you and grinds you. It’s like two yards, three yards, four yards. We really did a nice job eliminating the big plays in the run game. Where they hurt us was with a couple deep passes, and we will need to get that cleaned up.”

Manistee football coach Troy Bytwork (Photo/Joe Washington)

Forfinski also led the defense with 11 tackles, three for loss and one sack. Gage Jones had 10 tackles. Laman and Kohlbe Nelson each had four stops.

Huber was 3-of-8 passing for 59 yards and a score. He also led the Chippewas with 49 yards rushing on eight carries, while Kott picked up 46 on 15 tries with a touchdown.

Hornkohl had 16 attempts for 30 yards and a touchdown, while Isaiah Davis gained 25 yards on eight attempts.

Defensive leaders for the Chippewas included Hornkohl and Braydon Sorenson who had six tackles apiece, while Trevor Spencer had four.

It was the Orioles’ second straight win, lifting them to a 5-1 record overall and 3-1 in the conference with a big trip to league-leading Whitehall next Friday.

Manistee lost its second straight game, falling to 3-3 overall and dropping to 1-3 in the conference. The Chippewas host Shelby for their homecoming game next Friday.