Muskegon Big Reds roll into Division 2 state semifinals with convincing win over top ranked Midland

By Shawn Liverance
Local Sports Journal

After accepting the regional championship trophy on Saturday, Muskegon head coach Shane Fairfield addressed his team and told his seniors one thing.

“Well, guys you are stuck with me for one more week,” Fairfield said.

That brought a loud roar as nobody seemed to mind there will another week of football practice for the Big Reds.

In impressive fashion on Saturday, the Big Reds dismantled No. 1-ranked Midland on its home field 49-21.

The win sends Muskegon into the Division 2 state semifinals where they will face Caledonia. That game is next Saturday.

“It was a good win against a good football team,” Fairfield said. “But, we want to win two more games and that is how we are looking at it.”

It didn’t take long for the No. 2-ranked Big Reds to silence a large Midland crowd and bring a large group of Muskegon fans, who made the cross-state trip, to their feet by scoring on their opening drive.

John King capped a long opening drive by scoring on a 2-yard run with barely 4 minutes gone in the opening half.

That score would be just the beginning of a huge day for King.

On the Big Reds very next possession, King took off on a 65-yard run that gave Muskegon a 14-0 lead.

“It was big that we got off to a fast start,” said King, who rushed 21 times for 234 yards and four touchdowns. “We thought we could run the ball against them. The offensive line did a great job for all our running backs today.”

King added his third score of the game on a 2-yard run early in the second quarter giving Muskegon a 21-0 lead.

The Chemics answered King’s third score with one of their own on a 5-yard pass from Alec Johnson to Thomas Smith on its ensuing possession, but the Big Reds made sure any hope of a Midland comeback would be short-lived.

After receiving the Midland kickoff, Muskegon quarterback Jalen Smith found E’monte Briggs on the right sideline and Briggs shook off a tackle to go 80 yards for a touchdown.

Smith would get in on the scoring act himself just before halftime as he raced in from 9 yards out to give the Big Reds a 34-7 halftime lead.

“It feels really good to be moving on and playing another game next week,” said Smith, who completed 3-of-6 passes for 100 yards. “We were able to make some big plays early that helped us get off to a good start.”

With the game never really in doubt heading into halftime, the only real thing to be determined in the second half was how many points the Big Reds would score.

The Chemics managed the only score of the third quarter on Travis Patten’s 72-yard run.

King opened the final quarter with his fourth touchdown of the game on a 33-yard run and Muskegon’s final score came on Deshaun Thrower’s 2-yard run.

Midland closed out the scoring on Will Williams’ 29-yard touchdown reception.

In that same address to his team after the win, Fairfield quickly gave the regional championship trophy to Muskegon athletic director Keith Guy.

“We want to get a couple more of these trophies,” Fairfield told his team. “So, let’s not be satisfied until we accept that final trophy. Two more games until we reach our goal and that is what we need to focus on.”

William Hunt led the Muskegon defense with nine tackles, Kenneth Finley had eight and Ronald Jenkins recorded six with a sack.

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