The Muskegon Heights Tigers welcomed Holton to Phillips Field for the first playoff game in the stadium’s history. A stadium that once hosted State Championship clubs under legendary Head Coach Okie Johnson added a thrilling new chapter to its history on Saturday afternoon. In this playoff opener, Muskegon Heights outlasted Holton 66-42, the highest scoring game in the opening round.

Muskegon Heights struck first, as Ja’Kari Edwards reeled off a 27-yard touchdown run. Anthony Floyd chipped in a conversion and the Tigers led 8-0. Holton responded in the closing seconds of the first quarter, as Austin Fowler paired up with Kevin Erickson on a 15-yard passing score. A failed conversion left the Heights ahead by two.

Each team found the end zone twice in the second quarter of play. Ja’Kari Edwards rushed for a pair of touchdowns for Muskegon Heights. He bolted through the Red Devils’ defense for a 55-yard score, and followed that up with a 3-yard plunge. On the Holton side of play, Austin Fowler tossed two more touchdowns. He found Bret Hosmer and Kevin Erickson for scores. As was the case in the first quarter, the conversions stifled Holton. They trailed 22-18 as the game went to halftime.

Coming out of the half, Muskegon Heights scored on their opening two possessions. Ja’Kari Edwards led the charge, airing it out for a pair of touchdowns. First, he found G’Nari Davis on a 48-yard scoring play. He followed that up with a 10-yard toss to Hanif Guyton.

Holton would respond with a passing strike from Fowler to Erickson, as well as the team’s first two-point conversion. Muskegon Heights rounded out the quarter with a 52-yard run by Ja’Kari Edwards, giving the Tigers a 42-26 lead.

Two more touchdowns in the opening three minutes of the fourth quarter provided all the distance on the scoreboard the Tigers would need. After an interception, Ja’Kari Edwards used his legs for a 1-yard touchdown run. Moments later, Darice Totten rushed for his first touchdown of 2021, a 15-yard carry.

Holton would see two more touchdowns from Fowler, a pass of 46 yards to Bret Hosmer, and a 2-yard quarterback run. Sandwiched in the middle was the final scoring play from Ja’Kari Edwards, who rushed for 7 yards.

This was a true battle of offenses, particularly at the quarterback position. Ja’Kari Edwards was 7/16 passing, racking up 191 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, Edwards rushed 10 times for 162 yards and three additional scores. Holton saw Austin Fowler complete 32/46 passes for 463 yards and five touchdowns. Fowler was also the Red Devils’ leading rusher with 20 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.

Next week, Muskegon Heights will hit the road to face Carson City-Crystal. This is a rematch of a regular season game that Carson City-Crystal won 41-14 in Week 8. Last week, the Eagles defeated White Cloud 40-3 in their playoff opener.