Local Sports Journal

The Muskegon Catholic football team opened the season with a major test, and passed with flying colors.

The defending state champion Crusaders traveled hundreds of miles to Columbus, Ohio to face Bishop Hartley, one of the top small school teams in the Buckeye state. The temperature was over 90 degrees at game time.

But the Crusaders maintained their poise and showed their hosts what Michigan football is all about, claiming a 24-14 victory on Saturday.

The victory was vindication of sorts for the Crusaders, who led at halftime in both of their first two games last season, then ended up losing each contest. This time they led by 10 at halftime and finished what they started.

“We talked about that at halftime, how we have to finish games against quality teams,” said MCC coach Steve Czerwon. “I think our guys grew up a lot today playing against and beating a quality team.”

The Crusader defense also demonstrated its tenacity by giving up a lot of yards, but only allowing two touchdowns. Bishop Hartley dominated the offensive statistics, piling up 485 yards and 27 first downs, compared to 237 yards and 14 first downs for MCC.

“They definitely outgained us, but we came up with big plays when we had to,” Czerwon said.

MCC opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 22-yard touchdown throw from quarterback Nick Holt to Zach Winzer. Griffen Seymour added the extra point, giving the Crusaders a 7-0 lead.

Seymour added a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter, leaving the Crusaders with a 10-0 halftime edge.

Bishop Hartley narrowed the score to 10-7 in the third quarter on a seven-yard scoring run by Robert Jones III. MCC widened its lead to 17-7 later in the quarter on a 20 yard touchdown run by Holt and the PAT by Seymour.

Bishop Hartley’s Quri Hickman scored from a yard out later in the third, narrowing the margin to 17-14.

The hosts threatened to take the lead, or at least tie the game, with a long drive late in the fourth quarter. But they were held to a field goal attempt, and that missed the mark.

The Crusaders took advantage by marching down the field and scoring the decisive touchdown on a 36-yard run by Holt.

“The momentum had definitely shifted in their favor,” Czerwon said. “Then we managed to put together a nice drive. We were pretty much in the driver’s seat after that.”

Holt finished with 93 yards on 14 carries while Tommy Scott totaled 70 yards on 13 carries.

Lamar Jordan led the MCC defense with 13 tackles. Nate Jones added 11, Zach Windsor had 10 while Jaeden McPherson and Savion Thompson each had eight.