By John Karafa and Greg Wickstrom
For the second consecutive week, Muskegon Catholic pulled a rabbit out of its hat with a last minute win against formidable foes. This time the victory came in a 30-28 win over Oakridge in the final regular-season game.
Senior Joe Waller ran the ball in from 1-yard out on fourth down with 9 seconds left to tie the game and then scored again on a 2-point conversion to give the Crusaders the win.
“We had a good week of practice and our execution showed,” Muskegon Catholic coach Steve Czerwon said. “… The senior leaders stepped up on the last drive and made plays when it counted.”
The Crusaders’ final drive came after a blocked field goal.
The two local powerhouses have met twice before with each team having a win apiece.
Oakridge had led 28-16 late in the game before Muskegon Catholic scored on a 31-yard run up the middle out the straight T formation from senior Nick Powell.
Muskegon Catholic ends the regular season at 8-1 while Oakridge is 72 with both teams primed for the playoffs.
Oakridge would strike first on its opening drive with a 15-yard rush by junior quarterback Matt Danick.. The Crusaders struck right back with a 65-yard touchdown dash by Waller, who completed the 2-point conversion as well.
Waller led the Crusaders’ rushing attack with 11 carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Muskegon Catholic would struck a second time on a 1-yard run from senior Elliot Riegler, who finished with 60 yards on 13 carries with 7 of 12 passing for 121 yards.
Oakridge’s Corey Vanderputte scored on a 17-yard second-quarter run and then the Eagles got a 33-yard touchdown from Lorenzo Garcia on a pass from Brenden Raymond to take a 21-16 halftime lead.
Vanderputte finished with 93 yards on 19 carries while Danicek had 95 yards on 13 carries, along with throwing a 37-yard screen-pass touchdown to Trever Jones in the third quarter to take the 28-16 lead.
Dane Rutz had 67 yards on fourth catches for Muskegon Catholic while Sam Kartes led the Crusaders’ defense with 10 tackles and David Hill had nine.
Check out photos from the classic matchup shot by Michael Banka.