The North Muskegon football team was a huge underdog to defending state champion Pewamo-Westphalia in a Division 7 playoff game on Saturday, but very nearly pulled off a huge upset.

The Norse led 10-0 after one quarter, 10-6 at halftime and 17-12 in the third quarter, but ultimately fell 18-17 in a thriller on the road at P-W High School.

The Norse scored first midway through the first quarter on a 34-yard field goal by Gabe Rahrig. Later in the quarter North Muskegon quarterback Brennan Panuucci completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Bo Nedeau, and the PAT put the Norse up 10-0

Pewamo-Westphalia scored a touchdown in the second quarter but missed the PAT kick, leaving the Norse up 10-6 at halftime.

The Pirates added a touchdown in the third quarter, but the two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving P-W with a 12-10 edge.

Pannucci completed a 14-yard TD pass to Collin Schotts later in the quarter, and the PAT kick put North Muskegon up 17-12.

The Pirates scored the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 29-yard pass from Troy Wertman to Connor Thelen with 9:11 left in the game. The conversion attempt failed, and P-W led 18-17.

North Muskegon had a few late chances to pull out a win. They drove to the P-W 20 and faced a fourth down and nine situation, but threw an incomplete pass into the end zone. 

The Norse had one last opportunity with just under two minutes remaining, and had a fourth-and-one near midfield, but failed to convert the first down.

“I am very, very proud of our kids,” said North Muskegon Coach Larry Witham, whose team finished the season with a 4-4 record. “We asked them to fight for one another, and they did not disappoint us this season.”

Pannucci completed 9 of 15 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Schotts rushed for 64 yards, while Nadeau and Schotts each caught three passes for 65 and 46 yards, respectively.

Pannucci led the Norse defense with 7.5 tackles.