Local Sports Journal

Grandville – a sleeping football giant in the OK Red Conference – proved it’s back in the West Michigan spotlight.

The host Bulldogs gave unbeaten Muskegon all it could handle on a rainy Friday night in the Big Reds’ 24-16 victory. It proved to be a big road victory for the Big Reds, who overcame three fumbles and their share of penalties.

A 9-yard run by Brian Cappiello and a 2-point conversion pass to Daniel Shanley pulled Grandville within 24-16 with just under 5 minutes left in the game.

Muskegon (3-0) had another late scoring chance, but Miquel Flores just missed a 34-yard field goal at the 2:08 mark.

Muskegon’s defense stopped the Bulldogs on a fourth-and-seven and the Big Reds ran out the final 1:06 to preserve the physical, hard-fought contest.

Muskegon led 14-0 at halftime, but Grandville struck back with a 10-yard scoring run by Ben Sinclair and 2-point conversion run by Nolan Meekhof to cut the deficit to 14-8.

A blocked punt by Talmadge Carter set up Muskegon’s next score, a 33-yard run by Caleb Washington that pushed the Big Reds’ lead to 21-8.

Another Grandville turnover followed as Brandon Oliver’s fumble recovery led to a 31-yard field goal by Flores and a 24-8 advantage.

Grandville, under first-year coach Eric Stiegel, is now 2-1 after previous victories over Jenison (50-14) and Okemos (36-34).

The Bulldogs Wing-T offense produced 249 yards on 50 carries with only 5 yards passing. Sinclair carried 16 times for 82 yards, followed by Meekhof with 16 carries for 78 yards and Cappiello with 11 carries for 54 yards.

Muskegon took a 7-0 lead on Keonte’ Whiteside’s 40-yard TD run on the Big Reds’ first play from scrimmage.

Muskegon upped the lead to 14-0 just before halftime on Washington’s 23-yard run, which was set up be a Grandville fumble.

Muskegon totaled 214 yards, including 168 on the ground on 36 attempts. Washington led the way with 133 yards on 17 carries and two TDs.

Top tacklers for the Big Reds were Taran Smith with 12, Khari Cunningham with 10 and Keyante Carpenter and Tarrion Hill-Mackay with eight apiece.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Coach Shane Fairfield and the Big Reds, who host state power East Grand Rapids next week at Hackley Stadium.