The Grand Haven Bucs and Jenison Wildcats began their OK Red seasons on Friday. These two both entered with a 1-1 record, and they played even throughout the night. In the end, a late stop on a conversion proved to be the difference in a 28-26 Grand Haven victory.
In the opening frame, Jenison struck first. Carter VanManen paired up with Caleb Dean on a 13-yard touchdown that gave the ‘Cats a 7-0 lead. The lead wouldn’t last long, as Grand Haven responded with an equalizing score. Owen Worthington, the signal-caller for the Bucs, powered across the goal line from a yard out.
VanManen would take to the air for the second score of the night for Jenison, though this time he found Nate Arbaugh on a 21-yard strike. Again, the Bucs responded with Worthington. He used his legs on a 2-yard touchdown run with less than a minute to go in the first half. It appeared that after Nate Boehnke booted the extra point, Grand Haven would go into halftime ahead.
On the final play of the first half, Jenison regained the lead. VanManen tossed it up toward Zairean Chirco, and the duo’s 40-yard pass gave Jenison a 20-14 advantage as the teams entered the locker room.
Grand Haven would score the lone touchdown in the third quarter to jump ahead of the ‘Cats. Worthington used his arm to find an open Nate Boehnke on a 17-yard connection. Boehnke’s extra point pushed Grand Haven back ahead 21-20.
As the fourth quarter unfolded, Grand Haven got an insurance touchdown. Ryan Francis reeled off a 35-yard run through the Jenison defense and into the end zone. This put the Bucs ahead by eight points.
With about a minute to play, Jenison found the end zone on a 10-yard run by Caleb Dean. Trailing 28-26, the ‘Cats dialed up a two-point conversion play. VanManen and Dean set out to run an option to the right side, but the Grand Haven defense swarmed them in the backfield.
Grand Haven outgained Jenison 319-296 in this game. The Bucs ran for 284 yards, as Ryan Francis paced the team with 123. Owen Worthington added 68 yards on 17 carries, and he also passed for 35 yards. Gaven Strong chipped in 63 rushing yards in his 5 carries.
Carter VanManen was an effective passer for the ‘Cats, as he was 8/12 for 142 yards and three touchdowns. A pair of failed two-point conversions ultimately did Jenison in in this game.
Next week, the Bucs (2-1) will face off against West Ottawa (0-3). Jenison (1-2) will look for their first league win against rival Hudsonville (1-2).