By Jason Goorman
Local Sports Journal
CHICAGO – Defense and a persistent offense has led the Muskegon Mustangs to cap off their inaugural season with a 28-14 Great Midwest Football League championship win over the Missouri Chargers.
The 2013 GMFL champion Mustangs were led by Terry Mitchell who had three interceptions and a number of big catches on offense. The efforts by Mitchell made him an easy selection for the game’s MVP award.
The championship did not come easily for the Mustangs on Saturday night.
Missouri came out on all cylinders returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.
The Mustangs answered with a long drive of their own and finished it off with an Eric James 4-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Maurice Sherrill gave Muskegon a 14-6 halftime lead on a 18-yard touchdown run.
In the second half, Eric James responded once again with a 4-yard scamper into the end zone and a 21-6 third-quarter lead.
Missouri was finally able to respond after Muskegon’s three-straight touchdowns with a scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
But it was JaMarcus Martin’s 40-yard reception on a long third down in the fourth quarter that helped secure the Mustangs final scoring drive. Quarterback Aaron James’ pass to Martin was deflected but Martin made an athletic play to make the catch.
Sherrill finished off the drive with a 15-yard TD run to secure the win.
Kicker Jose Diaz played an important role for Muskegon, making all four of his extra-point attempts.
“We came, we set a goal, we conquered and now the trophy is coming home to Muskegon,” said Coach Brad Haney.
Stepping up for Muskegon was quarterback Aaron James, who helped control an offense that only made one turnover on the night.
Middle linebacker Stephon Betts and defensive back Holsey James led Muskegon’s defensive effort and shut down Missouri’s strong running game. Also making big defensive plays was safety Corey Edwards.
Muskegon 28, Missouri 14
Mustangs 7 – 7 – 7 – 7 — 28
Chargers 6 – 0 – 0 – 8 — 14
C – Kickoff return
M – Eric James 4 run (Jose Diaz kick)
M – Maurice Sherrell 18 run (Diaz kick)
M – Eric James 4 tun (Diaz kick)
C – QB 1 run (run good)
M – Maruice Sherrill 15-run (Diaz kick)