The Muskegon Big Reds welcomed East Kentwood to town for the 2022 season opener. Last fall, the Big Reds dominated the Falcons in their season opener, 47-7. Given the strength of the Big Reds’ returning cast this fall, many felt Friday night could have a similar script. Much to those folks’ surprise, this was a tight ballgame. In the end, Muskegon held off the Falcons 20-14 to capture the Week 1 victory.
On the opening possession of the game from Hackley Stadium, East Kentwood rolled the dice. They kicked, and recovered, an onside kick to seize possession. The Falcons marched down the field, but three costly penalties ultimately led to a stalled drive. Muskegon would respond quickly, as Destin Piggee powered across the goal line from six yards out. A missed conversion left the Big Reds ahead 6-0.
Casey Joppie would spark the East Kentwood offense on their next drive, as he kept the football for a 40-yard carry. This sprung the Falcons down the field quickly, and they would ultimately find the end zone. Stellan Bowman toted the ball across, his two-yard run giving East Kentwood a 7-6 lead. Three straight possessions ending in turnovers, two interceptions and a lost fumble, would signal the end of a sloppy first quarter.
Just sixty-eight seconds into the second frame, the Falcons found their way back into the end zone. Joppie swung it out to Nathaniel Cobbs on a short pass, before he broke some tackles and raced 32 yards into the end zone. Just like that, East Kentwood held a 14-6 advantage. They would hold this lead into halftime.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but the Big Reds ended the frame amidst a lengthy touchdown march. They capped off this drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by Adrian Rankin Jr on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Muskegon lined up for the equalizer, but their conversion attempt failed. As a result, East Kentwood remained in front, 14-12.
As Muskegon often does, they quickly made a big play. On the ensuing Falcons’ possession, they forced and recovered a fumble. As a result, they began their next series in the red zone. M’Khi Guy took advantage of the miscue, racing 20 yards to the end zone. After a successful two-point try, Muskegon had the lead back, 20-14, with ten minutes to play.
Twice in the final ten minutes, East Kentwood started promising drives. On both occasions, they were halted with big plays by the Muskegon defense. A pair of interceptions sealed the victory for the Big Reds.
Next week, Muskegon will continue non-league action against defending Division 2 State Champion Warren DeLaSalle. East Kentwood will look for their first win of 2022 against a different member of the CHSL, Brother Rice.