By Justin Haggerty
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Big Reds suffered their first defeat of the season last week against archrival Mona Shores.
They took their frustration out on the visiting Grand Rapids Northview Wildcats on Saturday afternoon, overcoming an early deficit and rolling to a 59-21 victory in Division 3 football playoff action.
Muskegon will host O-K Bronze Champion Cedar Springs next Saturday at 1 p.m. at Hackley Stadium.
“The greatest motivator is a loss,” said Muskegon Coach Shane Fairfield.“Getting hit in the mouth when you don’t think you can get hit. Sometimes those are the greatest things. Our goal is to get to Ford Field.”
While the Big Reds registered an easy win, their fans had a bit of a scare in the opening minutes.
Northview got on the board on the opening drive of the game with a trick play. Quarterback Devon Houston pitched the ball to Zach Pangborn, then sprinted down the sideline as an eligible receiver.
Pangborn then passed to Houston, who took it in for a 50-yard touchdown just three minutes into the game.
“The first thing my defensive coordinator said to me was ‘They can’t do that all day,’” Fairfield said. “He felt pretty confident, we felt confident in our game plan and the kids executed it well.”
The Muskegon offense answered less than two minutes later when Alquan Evans rumbled 62 yards for a touchdown less to tie the game at 7-7.
After that the Big Reds put on a clinic.
A strong defensive stand and a bad punt gave the Big Reds possession on the Northview 36 yard line. Caleb Washington then scored a six-yard touchdown to give Muskegon a 14-7 lead with 5:11 left in the first quarter.
Muskegon’s Mark Edens intercepted a Houston pass and took it all the way to the Northview three late in the first quarter. Quarterback Shawn Pfenning scored on the next play to put the Big Reds up 21-7.
Northview started the second quarter with an offensive drive before Taran Smith intercepted a Houston pass and took it back nearly 70 yards to put the Big Reds up 28-7.
“In the end, they’re a very good football team,” said Northview Coach Max Kerry. “I think there’s just some days where things don’t work out for you, regardless of how hard you try.”
Northview tried a fake punt and failed from its own 28 late in the first quarter, giving the Big Reds great field position.
Pfenning lobbed the ball deep down the right sideline to Joeviair Kennedy, who brought it down for a 28-yard TD reception.
Pfenning added a four-yard touchdown run with 1:42 left in the second quarter, giving Muskegon a commanding 42-7 halftime lead.
The Big Reds piled up 153 yards rushing on 15 carries in the first half.
Pfenning tossed a 19-yard touchdown to Jacorey Sullivan in the third quarter to put the Big Reds up 49-7. Muskegon Kicker Miguel Flores nailed a school-record 48-yard field goal late in the quarter to increase the lead to 52-7.
Northview scored on drives of 90 and 66 yards later in the contest, after the Big Reds started to clear their bench and give reserves some playing time.
Washington capped off the scoring on Muskegon’s final possession with a 52-yard touchdown run.
“We love playing here at Hackley,” said Fairfield. “We want to play two more here, but we know that doesn’t happen unless we compete with Cedar Springs on Saturday.”