By Dave Hart

MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP – An error-filled game could have cost the Mona Shores football team a victory in its O-K Black Conference opener against Reeths-Puffer on Friday night.

The Sailors, who jumped out to an early 21-0 lead, committed nine offensive penalties, which allowed Reeths-Puffer to fight back hard and stay in the game.

But the Sailors’ potent offense was still too much for the Rockets, and they escaped with a 49-35 win at Rocket Stadium to improve to 3-0 overall on the season and 1-0 in league play.

The Sailors will travel to take on Rockford next Friday while Reeths-Puffer, which dropped to 1-2 and 0-1, will host Jenison.

Mona Shores quarterback Caden Broersma looks to make a pass in the backfield. Photo/Joe Lane

“Lot of penalties and silly mistakes,” said Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak. “Definitely not a clean game so we need to get better.”

Despite the penalties, there were still quite a few bright spots for the Sailors.

Quarterback Caden Broersma was dominant through the air and on the ground, throwing for 234 yards on 6-for-9 passing and three touchdowns, while rushing for 77 yards on 12 carries and three scores.

The Sailors, who have been without star receiver Damari Roberson all season, received a huge lift from wideout James Gilbert, who caught five passes for 224 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Mona Shores’ also had 200 rushing yards from Sincere Dent on 18 carries and one touchdown.

“It is really exciting to be able to play a greater role,” said Gilbert. “I am just grinding it out every day.”

Mona Shores jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter, led 28-7 at halftime and had a 42-21 advantage heading into the final quarter.

The Rockets finished strong, closing the contest with a 14-7 fourth quarter advantage.

The Sailors scored the first 21 points of the contest on touchdown rushes of 8, 7 and 6 yards by Broersma.

Reeths-Puffer quarterback Evan Moskwa rushes past the Sailor defense. Photo/Joe Lane

Reeths-Puffer finally scored its first touchdown with 2:47 left in the second quarter on an 18-yard reception by Daven Fox from quarterback Evan Moskwa to cut its deficit to 21-7.

Mona Shores closed out the first half scoring with 1:21 remaining on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Broersma to Gilbert.

The Rockets traded touchdowns with Mona Shores during the third quarter, scoring on a five-yard run by Fox and a 19-yard completion from Moskwa to Carter Fulton.

The Sailors responded to both Reeths-Puffer scores with a two-yard touchdown run by Dent and a 51-yard completion from Trovinger to Gilbert.

Gilbert caught his third touchdown pass of the game with 7:14 left in the fourth quarter from 75 yards out to give the Sailors a 49-21 advantage.

Reeths-Puffer refused to quit, closing out the scoring with touchdown passes from Moskwa to Fulton (12 yards) and Fox (26 yards).

Moskwa completed 19 of 40 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns. Fulton led Reeths-Puffer receivers with seven catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns while Fox had six receptions for 123 yards and one touchdown.

“That’s a darn good football team we played,” said Reeths-Puffer coach Kyle Jewett. “I am proud of our guys on the way we fought. No one likes to lose, but we feel that we grew as a team and we have a lot of season left.”