By Tom Kendra
And the Sailors just couldn’t keep up.
Muskegon’s “three-headed monster” of juniors Destin Piggee, M’Khi Guy and Jakob Price all got it going in the same game, each topping 100 yards rushing and combining for 464 yards and eight touchdowns as the host Big Reds ran away from the conference-leading Sailors, 55-35, in front of more than 7,000 fans at Hackley Stadium.
“It’s hard to stop all that firepower when it’s coming from every direction,” explained Piggee, who needed just nine carries to amass 169 yards (18.8 yards per carry), with two touchdowns.
“The defense has to choose which one of us three they are going to focus on, and then we’re going to blow it up.”
It was anyone’s game at halftime, tied 14-14, and when Shores senior Dahmir Farnum went 77 yards down to the 3-yard line on the first play of the third quarter (sophomore quarterback Jonathan Pittman plunged in on the next play), it looked like the visiting Sailors would be the team to pull away.
Instead, Muskegon turned the rest of the game into a track meet, outscoring the bewildered visitors 41-14 from that point forward – only completing one pass during that stretch.
Muskegon (7-2, 6-1) created a three-way tie at the top of the OK Green Conference with the win, sharing the crown with Mona Shores and Zeeland West.
But much more importantly for the Muskegon players and coaching staff, who lingered on the field long after the final whistle to soak in the victory, was keeping its position atop the Muskegon area. The Big Reds have now won seven of the last eight games against Shores and lead the all-time series, 34-8.
Piggee, who plays slotback and got most of his yards on jet sweeps, said the Big Reds made good use of a week off last Friday, after Holland had to forfeit.
“We had two weeks to prepare for this game and that really helped,” said Piggee, who was only averaging 60 rushing yards per game before Friday. “We practiced in the driving rain and we lifted hard and we got ourselves ready.”
Mona Shores (7-2, 6-1) came into the game allowing just 11 points per game, holding Zeeland West to six points, shutting out Reeths-Puffer and allowing a total of 13 points over the past three games.
But the Sailors were a step slow all night, not knowing which of Muskegon’s “big three” was going to get the ball on every play.
Guy finished with 19 carries for 167 yards and four touchdowns, while completing 4-of-6 passes for 55 yards, with one interception. Thaddeus Parker caught two passes for 37 yards.
Price, who came into the game with just 313 rushing yards on the season, had 70 in the first half alone and finished with 24 carries for 128 yards and two TDs.
The win was especially satisfying for 13th-year Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield and his offensive coaches – coordinator Montrell Dockery, Matt Bolles (running game) and Kam Williams (passing game).
The key to the running game was the initial push of the offensive line, made up of senior center Nickarri Lane, junior guards Miguel Botello and Karl Brooks, senior tackle D’Andre Hudgins and sophomore tackle N-Kye Wynn.
“We were getting doubted by everybody,” said Piggee, noting many media outlets picked Shores to win the game. “But in that locker room, we knew we were the better team.
“The Big Reds are back and better than ever. We’re ready for the playoffs.”
Shores never quit, drawing to within 41-35 on a 24-yard TD run by Dahmir Farnum with 10:12 remaining, but Muskegon put it away with scoring runs by Guy (2 yards) and Piggee (34 yards).
Sophomore linebacker Adrian Rankin Jr. led the Big Reds with nine tackles, cornerback Amariyan Glover made seven tackles, sophomore linebacker Darekeo Speech six tackles and senior safety Julian Neely five tackles.
Farnum led his team with 15 carries for 147 yards, putting him over 1,000 yards on the season, now with 1,124 yards. Brandon Bankard added five carries for 54 yards.
Pittman completed 6-of-11 passes for 94 yards. Eric Cotner caught three passes for 77 yards.
Junior middle linebacker Trent Rosenthal paced Shores with nine tackles, safeties Hayden Terpstra and Jaylen Vinton each made seven tackles and Ke’Waun Farnum had an interception.
Both teams will learn their first-round playoff opponents on Sunday evening, with Shores in Division 2 and Muskegon in Division 3.