By Dave Hart

FREMONT – Last season, the Montague football team kept their playoff streak alive despite only winning three games due to playing in a very tough conference.

It is hard to say if the Wildcats can do it again this season, but a win on the road in Fremont was a critical step towards clinching a spot in the state playoffs.

Both teams started off slow, but the Wildcats finished the game strong, scoring all 21 points during the second half, resulting in a 28-7 win over the Packers on Friday night.

Montague snaps its three-game losing streak and improves to 3-4 on the season. The Wildcats will host Manistee next week before closing the season on the road against Oakridge.

The Packers are suddenly on a three-game skid and are 2-5 on the year. They will look to bounce back next week against a tough Whitehall squad on the road before closing the season in Manistee.

“We really needed that one,” said Montague coach Justin Dennett. “We got off to a slow start, but we made a couple of adjustments after halftime. The offense started to click, and the defense played well all night, besides that one big play.”

The Wildcats were led by their young sophomore quarterback Mason Darke, who rushed for 132 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns while going 4-for-7 passing for 29 yards.

“He came out here the first two games this year and played lights out,” Dennett said about his QB. “Then we had a tough stretch and he struggled. Tonight, he responded and ran the ball hard and that’s what we want from him. Tough, physical brand of football.”

Adam Baird also scored two touchdowns while rushing for 62 yards on eight attempts.

The Packers started the game with the ball and the first possession lasted eight plays and ended with a punt.

Montague took over on its own 7-yard line and drove the 50 yards before ending its opening drive by turning the ball over on downs.

The first quarter ended scoreless.

Fremont ended its second possession on the second play of the second quarter, turning the ball over on downs.

The Wildcats drove the ball inside the Fremont 40-yard line after nearly getting stopped on fourth down near midfield.

Montague threw an interception to Kyler DeKuiper to give the Packers the ball back on their own 10-yard line. Fremont finally opened the scoring two plays later with a long 90-yard pass play.

Quarterback Talen Reichert-Slater tossed the ball to Dekuiper 10 yards out before he ran the final 80 yards after the catch for the score.

The Packers led 7-0 with 6:57 left in the first half.

The Wildcats responded five plays later, going 65 yards on their next drive. Baird finished the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to tie the game with 4:25 remaining in the half.

The contest was deadlocked at 7-7 going into the halftime break.

The Wildcats broke the tie with 2:58 left in the third quarter on a 32-yard touchdown run by Baird to give Montague a 14-7 lead.

The game remained 14-7 heading into the final quarter.

Montague extended its lead to 21-7 six plays after recovering a fumble at the Packer 30-yard line. Darke scored on a 5-yard run with 10:28 left in the fourth quarter.

Darke rushed for a 1-yard touchdown run up the middle with 2:54 left in the game to give the Wildcats a 28-7 advantage.

Fremont was forced to punt the ball again on its last drive with around a minute left in the contest.

“I want to focus on cleaning up my game to help out our offense,” Darke said after his performance. “We were fired up at halftime, which helped us play with confidence. We need to take it week-to-week and play great Montague football.”

The Packers were led in a losing effort by Reichert-Slater, who was 8-for-17 passing for 135 yards and a touchdown. DeKuiper caught three passes for 95 yards and a touchdown, while Owen Hertel had four receptions for 36 yards. Khai Noordyk was held to 24 yards rushing on 13 carries while Hertel had 14 yards on seven attempts.

Fremont was paced defensively by Connor Pettis and Hertel with 11 and nine tackles, respectively.