MONTAGUE–The North Muskegon offense proved to be too much for the Montague defense on Friday evening.

The Norse earned a 27-7 road victory over the Wildcats.

North Muskegon quarterback James Young threw for 263 yards on 24-of-31 passing He threw for one touchdown, but was intercepted twice.

Denny Belmonte led the ground attack rushing for 58 yards on 15 carries and Ben Meyers picked up 48 yards on 5 carries.

North Muskegon had 379 yards of total offense while the Wildcats tallied 278 yards of offense.

North Muskegon jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

Young scored on a 5-yard run. That was followed by a Belmonte 8-yard run. Jack Erne converted both extra points.

Montague closed the margin to 14-7 with 1 second left in the quarter on a 2-yard run by Adam Baird. Zach Henderson converted the extra point.

“Great team victory tonight against a very formidable opponent in Montague,” NM coach Larry Witham said. “We knew we had to start fast and we did with 14 points in the first quarter, but give Montague a lot of credit.  They swung back to make it a 14-7 game at half.
“We made some adjustments at halftime to get the ball to Carsen Moat, a 6-4 receiver who was matched up against a smaller defensive back, and boy, did he come through with some great catches.”

It was the North Muskegon defense that also drew rave reviews.

“Our defense really set the tone, though, in the second half,” Witham said. “Coach Bryan Rypstra and staff did a great job with calling a couple of goal line stands to keep Montague out of the end zone.”

The Norse scored two third-quarter touchdowns. The first came on a 12-yard pass play from Young to TJ Byard. The second score came on a 10-yard run by Myers. Erne once again converted the extra points.

Belmonte and Sam Gallo led the North Muskegon defense with 7 tackles each while Kyle Huff chipped in with 6.5 tackles.

“Defensively, Sam Gallo, Kyle Huff, Denny and Ben were beasts all night,” Witham said. “Drew Bartos, Layne Brady, and Garrett Galdeen were solid as well.  I’m just really proud of our kids and our effort.”

Chase Gowell completed 7-of-23 passes for Montague for 125 yards. He threw one interception. Adam Baird led the Wildcat rushing attack gaining 111 yards on 20 carries. Isaiah Atchison caught four passes for 100 yards.

The Montague (2-4, 1-2) defense was led by Ryver Jarka who had 9.5 tackles. 

“James, Denny, and Ben had terrific games once again,” said Witham. “Alec Newville and Carsen had some key receptions to move the chains and our offensive line really did a great job creating seams in the defense and protecting James all night long,” said Witham.  

The table has been set for the conference championship in the West Michigan Conference Rivers Division.

North Muskegon (5-1, 3-0) hosts the Ravenna Bulldogs (5-1, 4-0) in a West Michigan Conference-Rivers showdown with first place on the line

Montague hosts Fremont (4-2, 1-2) next Friday in a West Michigan Conference-Rivers battle