In a game hyped as the best in the area this Friday, Muskegon welcomed Zeeland West to historic Hackley Stadium. The Dux were 4-0, in a tie for first in the OK Green with Mona Shores, their Week 6 opponent. Muskegon was 3-1, with a loss to those Sailors. These are two of the best teams in Division 3 throughout the state, in the same conference, and it was surely going to be a fantastic football game. If you disagreed with that statement through the first forty-five minutes of action, the final three surely quenched your thirst for the dramatic. A ninety-five yard punt return by Muskegon’s Myles Walton delivered a thrilling 15-14 victory.
Zeeland West struck first in this game, as Carson Gulker kept the football and ran for a three-yard touchdown. The Dux’ two-point conversion attempt, a run by Gulker, was thwarted. Looking to carry the momentum forward, Zeeland West attempted and recovered an onside kick. Before the first quarter was complete, they held a 14-0 lead as Gulker and Tarik DeJonge paired up for a five-yard touchdown pass.
The ability of the Dux to control the time of possession in this game, keeping the football away from this potent Big Reds offense, was a major factor in their two-score lead. They would absorb a large chunk of the second half clock, and as those seconds ticked off the clock, it seemed as if Muskegon would ultimately just run out of time to make a comeback. Two touchdowns seemed insurmountable.
With 2:45 to play, Muskegon got their first touchdown. Amari Crowley ran the football through the Dux’ defense for a seven yard touchdown. They would toss a two-point pass to cut the lead to 14-8. But surely Zeeland West could just line up in their trademark T-offense and bleed the clock right? Almost.
Muskegon forced a quick stop, and Zeeland West faced a fourth and short in plus territory. Rather than try to seal the victory with a first down, they elected to punt the football away. Myles Walton fielded the punt for the Big Reds at his own five yard line, and what happened next is one for the history books. In one of the most electric returns in recent memory, he broke tackles, eluded other oncoming defenders, including a late lunge by the punter, and covered ninety-five yards on his way to the end zone.
After an extra point, it was 15-14 Big Reds. Within 1:16 of game play, they went from trailing by fourteen to leading by one. Zeeland West had a Hail Mary attempt at the end of this game, and they nearly converted the pass. Ultimately the officials ruled it incomplete, sealing Muskegon’s win.
The Big Reds (4-1) will now look to these Dux for some help in the OK Green title race. If Zeeland West (4-1) can best Mona Shores next week (5-0), and Muskegon defeats Union (1-4), then there would be a three-way tie for the league title.