By Steve Gunn and Dave Hart

MUSKEGON – For a brief moment on Saturday night, the West Michigan Ironmen were in danger of falling behind in a game for the first time this season.

The Westchester Apaches had the ball on the first possession of the game, and drove to the Ironmen’s 1-yard line. At that point the local squad thought it might have a game on its hands.

But on the very next play, West Michigan’s Antonio Penn intercepted a pass in the end zone, ending the threat.

From there it was a romp, with the Ironmen pounding the Apaches 73-8 in a Midwest Professional Indoor Football league semifinal playoff game at L.C. Walker Arena.

West Michigan, now 4-0, will host the league championship game next Saturday at 7:15 p.m. against the Midway Marauders.

The Ironmen beat the Marauders 62-41 earlier this season. West Michigan Coach Ty Lynk knows his challenge this week will be to keep his team from being overconfident after the easy victory in the semifinals.

“My goal this week is to make sure our team understands that last time was a close game,” Lynk said about the previous meeting with the Marauders, who are the defending league champions. “Midway is going to come here with anger, so we need to get ready to play the game we need to play.”

The Ironmen’s offensive performance was even more impressive, considering their starting quarterback, third-year veteran Alex Carder, missed the game due to long-scheduled wedding plans.

Backup QB Travis Zajkowski filled in nicely, completing 11 of 17 passes for 158 yards and four touchdowns.

“Carder is getting married so it was his bachelor party,” Lynk said. “He couldn’t skip his wedding or bachelor party. But we will have him next week. And even without him, Travis showed he can do it, too. He is a great kid.”

The Ironmen started Saturday’s game a bit slowly. They didn’t score until their second possession, when Carrington Thompson found the end zone on a 10-yard run.

They added two points late in the first quarter when Nick DeKrakker sacked the Westchester quarterback in the end zone, and led 9-0 at the first break.

But the Ironmen opened things up in the second quarter, scoring five touchdowns and taking a 44-0 lead into halftime.

Thompson (15-yard catch), Corey Johnson (34-yard catch), Dakota Smith (1-yard run) and Terry Mitchell (17-yard pick-six) all found the end zone for West Michigan in the second quarter.

The teams each had one score in the third quarter, and the Ironmen led 51-8 heading into the fourth. West Michigan’s touchdown came on an eight-yard run by Smith.

West Michigan poured it on down the stretch, adding three more touchdowns to seal up the impressive victory. Johnson (10-yard catch), Ben Hutchins (34-yard run) and Erik Thompson (36-yard pick-six) did the damage in the fourth quarter for the Ironmen.

Smith carried the ball eight times for 39 yards and two touchdowns. Thompson finished with four receptions for 48 yards and one touchdown catch, while Johnson had two receptions for 43 yards and two scores.

Penn had two interceptions while Erik Thompson, Ben Hutchins, Jamie Potts and Terry Mitchell each had one for the Ironmen.

DeKrakker led the West Michigan defense with six tackles.


First quarter

WM 1:41–Carrington Thompson 10-yard run (Aaron Doriot kick) WM-7 WC-0
WM :18-Nick DeKrakker team safety WM-9 WC-0

Second quarter

WM 12:48–Carrington Thompson 15-yard catch from Travis Zajkowski
(Aaron Doriot kick) WM-16 WC-0

WM 8:07–Corey Johnson 34-yard catch from Travis Zajkowski (Aaron
Doriot kick) WM-23 WC-0

WM 5:54–Dakota Smith 1-yard run (Aaron Doriot kick) WM-30 WC-0

WM 2:36-Terry Mitchell 17-yard interception return (Aaron Doriot kick)
WM-37 WC-0

WM :26–Ben Hutchins 26-yard catch from Travis Zajkowski (Aaron Doriot
kick) WM-44 WC-0

Third quarter

WM 8:08-Dakota Smith 8-yard run (Aaron Doriot kick) WM-51 WC-0

WC :00-Shaquille Thompson 38-yard catch from David Skowronski (2-pt
good) WM-51 WC-8

Fourth quarter

WM 12:05–Corey Johnson 10-yard catch from Travis Zajkowski (2-pt good)
WM-59 WC-8

WM 3:52–Ben Hutchins 34-yard run (Aaron Doriot kick) WM-66 WC-8

WM 1:25-Erik Thompson 30-yard interception return (Aaron Doriot kick) WM-73 WC-8