Arenac Eastern gets win in season opener
Arenac Eastern 42, Owen-Gage 34
ARENAC EASTERN — Arenac Eastern opened the third version of the Mark Machulis era Thursday with an eventful 42-34 victory over visiting Owen-Gage, reminding the Eagles' coach of just how many beads of sweat a close victory can wring out.
Though he's been on one sideline or another for the past quarter century, it was his first high school varsity head coaching victory since 1990.
"It made me remember how stressful high school coaching can be," Machulis said. "But that's football. It was a lot of fun, and there was a lot of emotion after this one."
The Eagles took the lead for good midway through the second quarter on a 45-yard pass from Graham Morgan to Nick Phelan that gave AE a 22-20 lead.
Caleb Whitney then set AE up for another score before the half with a 35-yard punt return. Morgan finished off the short drive with the second of his four rushing touchdowns, this one on a 15-yard run. Morgan added two more scoring runs in the second half -- a 70-yarder to open the third quarter that opened up a 34-20 lead, and a 15-yard jaunt early in the fourth quarter that made it 42-28.
Owen-Gage used a 40-yard run to pull within 42-34, but the Eagles held on for the season-opening win.
"It kind of came down to who was going to get the breaks at the end," Machulis said. "We were working with a few injuries, but I don't think anything was too serious.
"We can only celebrate for so long. We're looking forward to Mio (Friday, Sept. 5). They're very big, and usually a team you need to go through if you want to win a conference championship."
Morgan finished with 200 yards rushing on 17 carries and threw for 75 yards on 4-of-5 passing. He also had 16 tackles on defense.
Whitney added 114 yards on 12 carries, Kyle Zobel had two kick returns totaling 58 yards and Phelan finished with 61 yards receiving on two catches.
Al Bilacic added 10 tackles, Nick Phelan had eight and Sam Phelan had four.
Owen-Gage opened the scoring with a nine-play, 50-yard drive to start the game that ended with a six-yard run for a 6-0 lead. Whitney answered for AE with a 51-yard run, and Morgan capped a 90-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion that made it 16-6.
Owen-Gage took a 20-12 lead on back-to-back touchdowns before Morgan hit Phelan with the go-ahead pass.
Morgan also connected with Joey Kramer for a pair of two-point conversion passes.