Pine River drops opener to Kalkaska

LEROY — Pine River quarterback Mason Powell led his team with 102 yards rushing and two touchdowns through the air, plus 95 yards and a TD on the ground, in a 21-18 loss to Kalkaska in Friday’s season opener.

Hunter Esiline had three catches for 98 yards and a touchdown while Bryan McCurry had five tackles and a sack.

“It was a pretty rough loss for us,” Pine River coach Terry Martin said. “We knew going in that it would be a pretty close game, and they would be a tough opponent.”

“Our offensive line was huge for us,” Kalkaska coach Jeremy Wilkinson said. “They (Luke Sexton, Jake Disbrow, Ed Davidson, Brad Berger and Seth Riddle) opened up some good holes in the run game, but more importantly we had good pass protection all night. We did take some big sacks in the game, but it was because we tried to escape the pocket outside instead of stepping up.”

Nolan Mitchell had 19 carries for 81 yards with five catches for 51 yards as well as a 1-yard rushing touchdown and a 28-yard receiving touchdown to lead the visitors. Hunter Suydam was 12-of-25 in passing for 124 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception.

“Turning point in the game had to be when they fumbled a punt after a three and out by us early in the third quarter,” Wilkinson said. “We were down 12-8 at the time and punted the ball away. 

“Defensively we knew we had to shut down two kids,” Wilkinson said, referring to Powell and Esiline. “All of their touchdowns were as a result of big plays by those two. We gave up three big plays that allowed them to score, two long passes and a long run where we did not tackle well. Other than those plays, the defense played tough and we were able to force some big turnovers.”

“In the second half, we had a lot of untimely mistakes,” Martin said. “We played pretty well defensively. We had some big time penalties that hurt us and a couple of turnovers that hurt us.”

Pine River is home Thursday for a nonleague battle against Morley Stanwood.

“Obviously, we have to cleanup some of our own mistakes as we move forward, “Martin said. “We had a lot of false start penalties that can’t happen for us. Morley Stanwood is similar to ourselves. They have a lot of playmakers. I think we’ll be in for another close, good football game.”