The West Catholic Falcons had won five consecutive state championships in Division 5, tying the state record for most consecutive championships. Their quest to break the record was halted early in the first round game on Friday night against Unity Christian. A pair of early touchdowns led to a quick lead, snowballing into a 41-22 Crusaders victory.
Unity Christian started the scoring in this one, as they marched all the way down the field with ease. Malekhi Obande’s three-yard run, paired with a Max Buikema two-point conversion, gave the Crusaders an 8-0 edge. Before the quarter was over, Unity would extend their lead to sixteen on a one-yard touchdown by Buikema.
The second quarter was also all Crusaders, as they scored eleven additional unanswered points. Max Buikema’s second touchdown run came from twelve yards, and Isaac Teslaa converted the two-point try to extend their lead to 24-0. It would be 27-0 Crusaders at halftime when they got a 33-yard field goal.
The Unity Christian run wasn’t over, as they would score yet again. After West Catholic forced a punt, it hit one of their players on their own four yard line before Unity recovered it. Teslaa scored two plays later on a one-yard run to give the Crusaders a 33-0 advantage.
West Catholic finally got on the scoreboard with 3:23 to play in the third quarter when Spencer Zobro found Zane Way for a 12-yard touchdown strike. The failed two-point try left this game a 33-6 Crusaders advantage heading into the final quarter.
Unity’s last touchdown of the night came three seconds into the fourth quarter when Max Buikema scored for a third time, this one an eight yard run. Down 41-6, the Falcons did not quit. They scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes to make this one closer than the rest of the game had indicated. Jack Schichtel caught a Zobro pass for a 53-yard touchdown, and he also caught the two-point conversion. After recovering the onside kick, Zobro capped off their next scoring drive with a two-yard keeper. He also would use his legs to get the two-point try.
The nineteen point deficit that still remained with just forty-one seconds left was unable to be overcome, and Unity would go on to knock off the five-time defending champions. In their first playoff appearance in Division 5, the Crusaders won a playoff game for the fourth time in five years. They will continue their season next week when they take on Muskegon Oakridge, who defeated Belding on Friday night 59-29.