Muskegon overpowers Farmington Hills Harrison, 28-10, for Div. 3 crown

Muskegon Big Reds highlights

DETROIT - Muskegon completed a dominant season and won its first state championship since 2008 with a 28-10 win over Farmington Hills Harrison in the Division 3 title game on Saturday night.

The Big Reds finished a perfect 14-0 on the season, outscoring their opponents, 680-88. Harrison’s defense did an admirable job slowing down Muskegon, which scored under 30 points for just the second time this year.

Seeking its 14th state title all-time, Harrison finished 10-4.

How it happened

Behind its massive offensive line, Muskegon rushed for 363 yards on 48 carries. After trailing, 10-7, in the first quarter, Muskegon scored 21 straight points. The Big Reds took a 14-10 lead with 4:29 left in the first half on a 14-yard touchdown run by quarterback La’Darius Jefferson. With 6:06 left in the third quarter, Jefferson scored from 1-yard out to make it 21-10 Big Reds. Jefferson then added a 3-yard touchdown run with 7:36 remaining to give Muskegon a 28-10 lead.

Star power

As expected, Jefferson was a force, rushing for 245 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries. Jefferson entered the game with 1,163 yards passing, 20 touchdowns and two interceptions on the season, but he only threw two passes against Harrison that were both incomplete. But with the way the running game was rolling, the Big Reds didn’t need to pass.

Defining play

Taking over on its own 27 with a 21-10 lead and 9:22 remaining, Muskegon began to deliver the knockout blow when senior Davion McCall took a pitch from Jefferson and raced 46 yards before being tackled at the Harrison 27. Two plays later, Jefferson scored from 3 yards out to all but put the game away.

Stat stuffers

Farmington Hills Harrison's Ben Williams returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, just the second time in state championship game history the opening kickoff was returned for a score. He also had a 56-yard kickoff return in the third quarter. Harrison had 49 yards of total offense after the first quarter, but Muskegon held the Hawks to 65 yards total in the last three quarters. Muskegon ended up outgaining Harrison, 363-114.

What this means

The state’s all-time winningest program, Muskegon snapped a four-game losing streak in state championship games. The Big Reds lost in the 2012 and 2013 Division 2 title games to Birmingham Brother Rice and in the 2014 and 2016 Division 3 championship games to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. Muskegon has now won six state titles. Harrison has one more season left before the school closes after the 2018-19 school year.

 

© 2017, Detroit Free Press


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