IMLAY CITY — The Imlay City varsity football team gave visiting North Branch all they could handle and then some, only to fall by a 35-22 count in a non-league confrontation last Friday night.
It was the season-opener for both combatants.
"We had a chance to pull it out at the end, but North Branch intercepted a pass and scored a touchdown on the play to stop us," Imlay City Coach Ken Day said. "It was an exciting game for the fans of both schools to watch," he noted.
"I was proud of how we were able to bounce back after trailing 22-12 minutes into the third quarter. The kids never quit and we were right in it until the end. We will come ready to play again this Thursday when we open up our BWAC schedule with a home game against Richmond."
In Friday's confrontation, North Branch grabbed a 7-6 edge after one quarter was into the record books.
Quarter number two saw North Branch amass eight points and Imlay City generated six.
That left North Branch clinging to a 15-12 edge at the halftime break.
When the action resumed, Imlay City bounced back with a 10-7 third quarter edge.
That knotted the scoreboard at 22-22 at the 36-minute mark.
North Branch then outscored Imlay City 13-0 the rest of the way, leaving the field with a 35-22 win to their credit.
Imlay City produced their 22-point output that evening thanks to an A.J. Caldwell 32-yard touchdown; an A.J. Kanaziz 14-yard interception return for a touchdown; a John Loveless 11-yard touchdown run (followed by a Nivison to Kyle Guerrero PAT pass collaboration); and a safety from Kanaziz.
For the night, Nivison completed four of 12 passes for 35 yards as Imlay City's quarterback. He threw two interceptions along the way.
His successful tosses were distributed to three different targets. Their ranks consisted of Caldwell (two catches for 20 yards), Jonny Mosier (one reception for 12 yards) and Guerrero (one catch for three yards).
The Imlay City ground attack added 168 yards on 44 totes.
Individually, Loveless (17 rushes for 90 yards) notched Imlay City's best numbers. Caldwell (54 yards on 11 totes) and Nivison (16 rushes for 24 yards) supported his performance.
Caldwell paced the Imlay City defense with seven solos and one assist. He was backed by Mike Nagy (five solos) and Kanaziz (three solos and two assists).
Kanaziz added an interception to Imlay City's cause.
Imlay City will look to even their overall record this Thursday when it entertains Richmond. The matchup, the BWAC opener for both combatants, lists a 7 p.m. starting time.
Kevin Kissane has been covering high school sports for the Tri-City Times since 1985. When not standing on a field or court with his camera and notepad, he enjoys golf, travel and family. Kevin is a 1980 graduate of Capac High School, and is also a grad of St. Clair Community College and earned a degree in journalism from Central Michigan University.