DETROIT - Just 2 more yards would have given Nolan Fugate a spot atop the record book all by himself.
But he said he’d rather have the 11-point scoring spread.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s senior running back churned out 306 yards rushing, with four touchdowns and a fifth receiving, in a 42-31 win over Edwardsburg in the Division 4 state title game. If Fugate had gained 2 more yards, he would have eclipsed the single-game finals rushing record, set by Jim Schragg of Constantine in the 2004 Division 6 game at 307 yards.
“I’ve been saying all year we have the best offensive line in the state of Michigan,” Fugate said near midfield after the team’s second consecutive state championship. “I love those guys more than anything in the world, and I love my outside receivers. I can’t thank all of them enough for what they’ve done for me these last two years on varsity.”
As it turns out, Fugate tied two records for a single finals game, set twice before; for 30 points scored and five touchdowns. He finished the game with 86 yards receiving as well.
Fugate entered the game No. 10 on the MHSAA’s all-time yards rushing in a season list with 2,788 yards in 13 games. With a new total of 3,094 yards rushing he jumped all the way up to No. 2 on the all-time season list.
Pewamo-Westphalia's Jared Smith ran for 3,250 yards in 2015.
While Fugate’s offensive output was spectacular, Catholic Central’s defense played a huge role. The Cougars (14-0) stopped Edwardsburg's two-point conversion attempts three times and on a fourth-and-1 at the GRCC 26-yard line to end the Eddies’ comeback attempt late.
“Defensively, we really haven’t given up the big play much this year,” said Cougars coach Todd Kolster. “We’ve given up some points but not the big plays, and we did tonight so that was a little disappointing. But the kids kept fighting, and we didn’t give up a single two-point conversion, and that’s what’s been missing. That’s what was special tonight, stopping the two-point play every time, and that’s the difference in the ball game.”
Edwardsburg (12-2), which almost exclusively runs the ball with its hide-and-seek style offense, had touchdown runs of 55 yards (Kyle Shrider), 64 yards (Chase Sager), 78 yards (Shrider) and 90 yards (Nick Bradley).
The Eddies also scored on a final’s game record-tying 99-yard kickoff return by Caden Goggins.
“We like to get 10 feet every single play, and then it’s great when it opens up,” Shriver said. “We do a lot of different things and sometimes they try and anticipate the wrong thing; that’s when the big plays happen. But when it comes down to it, we want 10 feet every single play, and the big plays, that’s just an extra.”
Catholic Central went 27-1 in the last two championship seasons combined.
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