By John Jarvi
Local Sports Journal
GRAND HAVEN — Grand Haven used a good defensive effort with a late-game scoring drive as the Buccaneers thwarted a first-time foe, the East Lansing Trojans, 10-6 Friday, Sept. 6, in a non-league football game.
Grand Haven trailed 6-3 with 4:17 left, and then the Buccaneers opted for a wildcat attack with Schaefer Thelen at quarterback.
The Buccaneers had to cover 70 yards for a touchdown and Thelen scrambled for 63 of them on six carries. He had a 24-yard run for his longest play in the drive and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a one-yard run with 1:38 left.
“Thelen played well,” Grand Haven coach Mike Farley said. “I played against his father, Rex, when he played at Fowler years ago. Schaefer is a tough kid. He’s a very headsy kid, too.”
The victory evened Grand Haven’s record at 1-1. The Buccaneers controlled the first half offensively, but they only came away with a 3-0 halftime lead on a 25-yard field goal by Ryan Maguire with 4:12 left in the first quarter.
During the second half, East Lansing’s offense settled down and started moving the ball. After having only 45 yards and two first downs in offense during the first half, the Trojans showed more consistency.
East Lansing, now 1-1, moved the ball and finally came away with a touchdown with 4:17 to play. Grand Haven had been trying to control the ball, but a Buccaneer fumbled snap on a third-down play set up the Trojans with 5:15 left at the Buccaneer 28-yard-line.
East Lansing scored in two plays after losing five yards on the first play. Quarterback Reece Piotter tossed a flare pass to the right where running back Marq Adams caught it all alone and darted 33 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point kick missed, and the Trojans led 6-3.
“It was a good competition, and a good high school football game,” said Bill Feraco, the head coach at East Lansing for 10 years. “It was a tough loss, but those things happen. It will be a test of our ability to bounce back, and we will be doing that.”
Overall, Grand Haven limited East Lansing to 105 yards rushing and 46 passing. After getting only two first downs in the first half, the Trojans wound up with 10 for the game. East Lansing completed six of 20 passes and had one pass intercepted.
“We played well,” Farley said. “Defensively we had a great week of practice. Our defense is kind of tailor-made to do that. Our linebackers can run and hit. It was a tight game, and our defense was outstanding.
“That last drive really showed our toughness.”
Grand Haven ended with 15 first downs and rushed for 141 yards on 47 carries. The Buccaneers also passed for 62 yards by completing seven of 11 passes with one interception. East Lansing recovered the only fumble of the game.
Chase Pego led Grand Haven in rushing with a net 85 yards on 16 carries. Nick Mulcahy caught three passes for 41 yards for the Buccaneers.
On defense for Grand Haven, Abe Westerman had eight unassisted tackles and helped out on five more. Dakota Juarez had five unassisted tackles and assisted on seven more. Aaron Cummings had four solo stops and six assists and Tyler Tippens had three solos and five assists for the Buccaneers.
Adams rushed for 50 yards in 15 carries and Faymous (cq) Tyra gained 49 yards in 16 carries for East Lansing.
Grand Haven will return to action Friday, Sept. 13, when the Buccaneers host Lowell’s Red Arrows. Lowell beat Grand Haven 29-12 last season at Lowell. It was the first meeting between the teams since Lowell beat Grand Haven in 1930 and 1931 after the teams played a scoreless tie in 1929.