Grand Rapids Catholic Central successfully defended its Division 4 state championship by keeping a step ahead of Edwardsburg, eventually winning 42-31 at Ford Field in Detroit. Defense was a huge factor for GRCC as it stopped three 2-point conversion attempts and a missed extra point to help stay out of reach of Edwardsburg’s multiple comeback attempts.
How it happened
Grand Rapids Catholic Central rushed for 320 yards and passed for 128 to defeat Edwardsburg, which fought hard to the end and was nearing the red zone late in the game when the GRCC defense stopped the Eddies on a 4th-and-1 play at the 26-yard line. It was the third time in the game Catholic Central stopped a fourth-down attempt by Edwardsburg.
GRCC senior Nolan Fugate didn’t disappoint, rushing for 306 yards and four touchdowns to pace the Cougars. He entered the game 10th on the MHSAA’s single-season rushing yards list, with 2,788 yards in 13 games. His new total of 3,094 yards leaves him at No. 2. His 306 yards for the game came up one yard short of the state finals record of 307. Fugate also had a 20-yard receiving touchdown.
Edwardsburg’s Kyle Shrider was impressive with 162 yards and two touchdowns in the Eddies’ runner up effort.
Fugate’s 54-yard run for a touchdown for Grand Rapids Catholic Central at the 6:03 mark in the third quarter — just moments after Edwardsburg scored on a 99-yard kickoff return — gave the Cougars a 35-19 lead and put a dent in the momentum of Edwardsburg’s comeback try. Fugate ran all four plays on the 69-yard drive and the 16-point lead was too much for the Eddies to overcome in Edwardsburg’s first-ever state finals appearance. Fugate added another top-play nomination when he lept high to grab a 38-yard pass late in the game on a 3rd-down and 28-yard play, keeping the Cougars’ final scoring drive alive.
Edwardsburg’s Caden Goggins tied the state finals record with a 99-yard touchdown return on a kickoff early in the third quarter. GRCC had just scored on the second-half opening drive when it kicked off to the Eddies. The record-tying return closed the scoring gap to 28-19, in favor of GRCC.
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