The Dexter Dreadnaught varsity football team lost Friday night 49 to 13 in its home opener to the Fowlerville Gladiators in a game that saw them fight to the end.
Dexter Coach Ken Koenig said his players worked on both sides of the ball all game, but in the end penalties hurt the team.
“We played hard, but we had a lot of self-inflicted penalties at inopportune times,” Koenig said.
The first scoring drive for the Gladiators happened in the first quarter and it was due in part to penalties by the Dreadnaughts that led to a touchdown run by Alex Brownlee, a junior running back. Gladiator senior quarterback Nick Semke had his helmet torn off after a run, which led to a personal foul call and Fowlerville’s offense inching closer to the end zone just before the handoff to Brownlee.
With the score 7-0, the Dreadnaughts got the ball back. The possession started out shaky with a fumble and recovery by the offense. Junior George Deljevic substituted in for starter Joey Hiser at quarterback in a rotation that would occur throughout the game as both players filled in as the other took a breather.
Deljevic threw a pass down the sideline that ended up intercepted by the Gladiators. This led to Fowlerville’s next score and the start to a great game for quarterback Semke, who scored on a 46-yard sprint to the end zone.
Dexter struck back on the next possession after a great kick return from sophomore Andy Durand. The kick and punt return games for Dexter proved to be a bit of a bright spot for the home team. The offense made their way down the field and capped off the first scoring series with a touchdown pass from Hiser to junior Nick Felecia from 12 yards out, but the point after kick was blocked.
The Dreadnaughts had a glimmer of hope during Fowlerville’s next series after the visiting team fumbled the ball and senior outside linebacker Truman Stovall recovered it. However, this was short-lived because the Dreadnaughts then fumbled on a handoff on their second play of the series with just over five minutes left in the half.
The Gladiators capitalized on this with a rushing touchdown by Brownlee, putting the score at 21-6 Fowlerville.
After a punt by Dexter on its next series, Fowlerville got the ball back. It was during this series that junior defensive lineman Kyle Rooke went down with an injury during a tackle. He left the game with what appeared to be for a concussion assessment and did not return.
Senior outside linebacker Stone Wallace temporarily halted the Gladiator march with two sacks for losses. However, a pass for a gain of 14 yards and a pass interference on Dexter set up Fowlerville’s last score of the half, putting the score at 28-6.
Fowlerville didn’t let up going into the second half. Brownlee and Semke led their team on the ground while Dexter suffered another injury, this time to Travon Reid, who left the game.
Koenig said the injuries led him and his staff to reshuffle their lineup. He said they hope the two injured players will be back next game.
A scamper from 16 yards out by Semke put the Gladiators up 35-6. After a punt by the home team, Fowlerville scored again on a run by senior Josh Nabozny.
As the game was winding down in the fourth quarter, the Dreadnaughts continued to work their game plan. Deljevic was under center and led the team on its final scoring drive that included a great pass to sophomore Alex Mills. The drive was capped off with a rushing touchdown by senior Seamus McCurren, making the score 42-13.
However, the Gladiators proved to be too much in this game and went onto score their final touchdown on a run by senior Wyatt Thomas.
Koenig said the Gladiators were a tough team and credited Semke’s leadership for its win. He said his team made less mental mistakes in the second half, but it just wasn’t enough on this night.
Up next for the Dreadnaughts are the Ortonville-Brandon Blackhawks at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1 in Ortonville.