By Melvin Lane

ZEELAND – Responding to adversity has become a recurring theme for the Muskegon Big Reds this season.

And Friday night was no different as the Big Reds defeated the Zeeland West Dux 22-16 on a rainy night that saw a weather delay extend halftime for an extra 40 minutes.

“This game is like all six of our previous games wrapped into one,” said Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield. “The kids have really bought in. We had a long week of practice. Our kids are resilient.”

Muskegon’s offense found the end zone first on a 1-yard score from quarterback M’Khi Guy with 53 seconds left in the first quarter. Guy scored from 2 yards out to go up 14-0 with 3:53 left in the second quarter. Guy’s 29-yard pass to Terrance Davis Jr. set up the Big Reds inside the 10-yard line before they found the endzone.

The Big Reds seemed to have all the momentum, but the wing-T, offensive-minded Dux quickly responded as they found success through the air as quarterback Trenten Bolhouse, on a rare pass attempt, found Brody Smeyers for a 52-yard gain. Isaac Vanderzwaag finished the drive with a 1-yard score and a successful 2-point conversion.

Photo/Craig Smith

After a rainy first half, Big Reds went into the locker room with a 14-8 lead. Due to lightning in the area, fans had to clear the stadium. Those that reentered were treated to an eventful second half. The Dux came out at half and marched down the field and scored with Bolhouse scoring from 1 yard out. The Dux Vanderzwagg gave the home homecoming crowd something to cheer about as the Dux took their first lead of the night with 5:51 left in the third quarter.

Guy found the endzone for his third score of the with 10:05 left in the fourth. The Muskegon defense stepped up and forced the Dux to fumble with 4:49 left in the quarter and Keon Drummer recovered. The Big Reds were looking to run out the clock, but the Dux stopped them on fourth down with 1:58 remaining. The Dux had one last opportunity, but Muskegon’s Da’Carion Taylor intercepted West’s fourth down pass to seal the deal.

“This game meant a lot to us,” Taylor said. “We took this game personal. We lost our first two games, but look at where we are now, we’re here and coming for everybody. Coach told me I needed to be one his guys. On last year’s team, they were helping me and teaching me, getting my head right. I just wanted a bigger part to help my team win so this year I’ve just stepped up.”

Muskegon was led by Guy with 119 yards rushing and three touchdowns along with 81 yards passing. Destin Piggee had 81 rushing yards.  Defensively, the Big Reds were led by Darekeo Speech and Stanley Cunningham with eight tackles apiece and Rankin with seven tackles.

“They are standup kids,” said Fairfield. “I’ve known most of them since the eighth grade. We have 11 or more with a 3.7 grade-point-average or higher. They are great student athletes for our community and school. We have nine 3-year starters so you can’t help but have a special place in your heart for them.”

Muskegon will resume play next week at home Friday against Grand Rapids Union where they can clinch at least a share of the OK-Green Conference championship.

Check out more photos from the action courtesy of Craig Smith.

Photo/Craig Smith