UBLY — During a 34-game winning streak, wins are going to come in all varieties.
Some are nearly flawless, some are gritty defensive efforts.
Ubly’s 14-6 victory over Sandusky to begin Greater Thumb East play on Thursday night falls in the latter category.
“We will take any win that we can get,” said first-year head coach Dave Kaufman.
The Bearcats are used to seeing the best out of their opponents. Thursday, they didn’t see Sandusky’s best offensive effort, but the defense was up to the challenge.
“Every win is a big win for these kids because everyone is coming after us,” Kaufman said.
“We try not to talk about the streak, but we know other teams are talking about it. They all want to be the ones to stop it. Every game we go out, we’re getting every team’s best effort.”
The teams traded field position for most of the first half, until Ubly forced a fumble with time running down in the second quarter.
Kurtis Booms was on the spot to take the ball back 37 yards for the score, making it 8-0 after Austin Drake hit Jason Kaufman for the 2-pointer with 3:46 to play.
“At that time, it was really a stalemate, so we needed that,” Kaufman said.
To allow Ubly’s first score to come from its defense was deflating for Sandusky.
“That was tough because we didn’t want to make a mistake with the way our defense was playing,” said Sandusky coach Brad Bays.
“We played well enough defensively to win the game.”
During last week’s 43-0 win over Cass City, the Redskins had their way on offense. But even then, Bays told his team it would need to run the ball better to defeat Ubly.
“I thought our defense played great tonight,” he said. “Offensively, we had several chances to make a play — and we didn’t. Our offensive line did not play well tonight. We had chances, and we just didn’t do it.
“We knew that they would have a good defense.”
Ubly’s defense forced another three-and-out to begin the second half.
The Bearcats took advantage of a short field, as Nick Sweeney came through with a nice 31-yard TD scamper.
Sweeney’s score made it 14-0 with 8:41 to play in the third.
Sweeney began the fourth quarter with a 60-yard run to set Ubly up on the Sandusky 3-yard line. A fumble prevented it from becoming a three-score game.
“Two touchdowns, anything can happen, but if you get up three it really takes the wind out of their sails,” Kaufman said.
Sweeney was filling in for the injured Bret Cleary. He ended the night with 132 yards on 19 carries. Ryan Haag, filling in for Jimmy Shaw, came through with 80 yards on 20 totes.
“The two juniors played great today,” Kaufman said. “Jesse Franzel only had one carry, but he’s lead blocking for Nick Sweeney. He’s creating a lot of space.”
Another failed red zone conversion led to Sandusky finally getting on the board.
Quarterback Justin Mills broke loose down the Ubly sideline for a 89-yard touchdown.
The conversion failed, and Josh White recovered the ensuing onside kick for the Bearcats.
Even with Mills’ run, the Redskins mustered just 157 yards of total offense. It was a far cry from the 426 combine yards Mills and Brandon Tucker put up against Cass City in Week 1.
Tucker was held in check, with only two receptions and no yards after the catch.
“If you take away that 89 yards, that’s 68 yards of total offense with three minutes to go in the game,” Kaufman said. “I can’t say enough about the way our kids played defense.
“For him to have two catches against us... (Assistant coach) Chuck Wright had a good game plan to get our team ready.”
Sandusky returns home to host winless Mayville next week and will stay home the following week to play Memphis.
“It’s going to be a tough conference top to bottom,” Bays said. “This could be one of the best teams I’ve ever had, but if we don’t pull it together, we may not make the playoffs.”
Ubly hits the road for the first time, traveling to Marlette next week. The Red Raiders lead the GTE in scoring, racking up 99 points in two games so far.
Marlette features the dangerous offensive trio of quarterback Kolby Lange, along with receivers Donnie Thomas and Brad Schaub.
In two games, Lange has completed 21-of-28 passes for 386 yards and four scores. He has also rushed for 270 yards and five touchdowns.
Schaub has caught nine balls for 169 yards and a TD while Thomas has hauled in eight passes for 187 yards and three scores.
“We have Marlette next week. They have three of the fastest guys in the area,” Kaufman said.
“It’s going to be the same (challenge) we saw this week.”
Here are a couple of photos from the game.