By Justin Haggerty
But games aren’t played on paper, and the Cardinals and Tigers ended up putting on quite a show, with Orchard View emerging with a 24-14 Homecoming victory in front of a big home crowd.
“Our home side (of the stadium) was packed,” said Orchard View head coach Joe Tanis. “We’re grateful for the home crowd coming out on homecoming and coming back.”
While the Cardinals have only one win this season, Tanis said he can see growing support in the community for the football program.
“I think what you see right now is a lot of OV pride and it’s slowly building,” he said. “It doesn’t happen overnight. It starts at the top with our superintendent all the way down and everybody’s doing a great job at every level.”
Despite being in the game into the fourth quarter, the Tigers were whistled 15 times for penalties and repeatedly jumped offside to kill drives. That happened on back-to-back first-and-goal situations in the third quarter that resulted in zero points for Muskegon Heights.
“We just find a way to self-destruct,” said Heights coach Tommie Elliott. “We haven’t matured yet enough to stop self-defeating behavior. Jumping offside, that’s on us. We’ve got to get better at paying attention to detail.”
The Tigers opened the scoring in the final minute of the first quarter when Martel Love broke free from his own 48-yard line and raced to the end zone. With a successful two-point conversion, Heights led 8-0.
“That definitely challenged us,” Tanis said about the Tigers’ drive. “We knew if we didn’t score first that we had to respond. I’m proud of our kids for responding and not hanging their heads.
“We knew they were very explosive. They’re a good football team despite what their record says. They’ve played a brutal schedule, just like us. I was really proud of how our kids responded after that.”
Orchard View got on the board midway through the second quarter when Nacho Silva hit a 20-yard field goal to make it 8-3.
OV senior Anthony Martin capped a nine-play drive in the final minute of the half with a four-yard touchdown run up the middle, giving the Cardinals a 9-8 halftime lead.
Martin scored another four-yard touchdown run early in the second half to give OV a 15-8 lead.
The Tigers’ ensuing drive stalled at their own 46-yard line, forcing a punt.
The punt was botched, but punter/quarterback JaJuante Trotter picked up the ball at his own 30-yard line and scrambled down the sideline all the way to the Orchard View six. That set up a first-and-goal with the potential to tie the game.
But the Heights offense couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity. The Tigers threw an incomplete pass on fourth down to turn the ball over to the Cardinals.
The Cardinals fumbled on their first play from scrimmage, and the Tigers recovered, getting another first-and-goal opportunity.
They converted on their second chance, with Love bouncing to the outside and into the end zone. Elliott elected to go for the lead with a two-point conversion try, but that play failed, leaving OV with a 15-14 edge entering the final quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Orchard View senior Treshawn Kelly scored on a four-yard run to put the Cardinals up 22-14 with 11:54 to play.
The Cardinals capped the victory with 2:55 left when Kennan “Big Nasty” VanNatter brought down the Heights punter in the end zone for a safety.