By Justin Haggerty
MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Big Reds had more than one reason to celebrate Friday night.
Scott was diagnosed at age eight with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and beat the disease, inspiring his teammates and helping to lead the Big Reds to a 54-14 victory over Reeths-Puffer at Hackley Stadium.
Scott was honored after the third quarter with an announcement and a standing ovation when his teammates surrounded him on the field.
“It kind of touched me,” Scott said of the honor. “I wasn’t expecting it, but it touched me pretty good. That’s why I love my team.”
The night got even better for Scott in the fourth quarter when he had a 49-yard touchdown reception.
“It was a very special moment to be able to get a touchdown on my eight year anniversary,” Scott said.
Lost in all the excitement was the fact that Muskegon clinched its 16th consecutive playoff berth.
“We had a lot of things to celebrate here tonight,” Fairfield said. “The biggest one, of course, as always is getting into the playoffs.
“That’s the way we do things, tough schedule, let’s get six (wins). That’s our first goal. We always put reachable goals in with long term goals. Our next goal is to win the conference and make a deep run in the playoffs.”
The Big Reds, now 6-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play, will visit Mona Shores in a huge showdown next Friday, with the winner likely to capture the O-K Black title.
Reeths-Puffer dropped to 3-4 and 1-2 in league play.
For a half, Reeths-Puffer held its own against the powerful Big Reds, but couldn’t sustain the effort in the second half.
On the very first play of the game, R-P junior running back Nate McCrary broke loose and escaped down the left sideline for a 73-yard touchdown run to put the Rockets up 7-0.
“Nate McCrary is a good football player,” Muskegon head coach Shane Fairfield said. “The kid can flat out run.
“We hit him in the backfield and everybody tackled the quarterback. It kind of broke and he kind of spun out and had the ball. He just broke one down the sideline.”
The Big Reds tied the score eight minutes later when senior PP Copeland made the right side of the R-P defense miss and scampered for a 19-yard touchdown.
On Muskegon’s next drive, quarterback Kalil Pimpleton marched his team 57 yards on seven plays, including a 57 yard pass to Khari Wilcox-Lewis after a holding penalty. Jared Pittman capped the drive with a three yard dive into the end zone to put the Big Reds up 14-7.
Muskegon was driving again on its next possession, making it to the Rocket 20 yard line but fumbled the ball.
Reeths-Puffer’s Jordan Cooley scooped the ball up and sprinted 80 yards to tie the score at 14-14 with 4:51 remaining in the first half.
It seemed as though the Rockets were on the verge of taking the lead as halftime approached. Quarterback Blake Ross drove his team to the Muskegon 18 before fumbling with under 10 seconds to play.
Muskegon’s Jordan Redmon returned the favor and scooped the ball up and scored a 79 yard touchdown of his own to put the Big Reds up 21-14 at halftime.
“Football is a game of inches,” Rockets head coach Kyle Jewett said. “When something like that happens, you have to respond.”
Muskegon took control in the second half.
In the third quarter, Muskegon got a 33 yard touchdown run by Pimpleton and two touchdowns from Copeland of eight and six yards.
The Big Reds led 42-14 after three quarters.
Pittman got his second touchdown of the night on a 19 yard run with 11:26 play.
The final score of the night was a screen pass from Pimpleton to Scott. Scott sprinted to the sideline, then raced to the end zone for a 49 yard score.