After last week’s win over Caledonia, Byron Center travelled to the banks of the Red Cedar for a game with East Lansing. This was the fifth time that the Bulldogs have reached the Regional Finals, looking for their first semifinals trip. Unfortunately for Byron Center, their pursuit fell short. They fall in this game 42-20 to the host Trojans.
Byron Center got this game started on the right foot. On their opening drive, Landon Tungate found the end zone on a 1-yard run. Though the extra point was no good, they held a 6-0 advantage.
Benjamin Fletcher and the East Lansing offense responded with four seconds left in the first quarter, as he paired up with Charlie Baker for a 31-yard touchdown strike. A successful kick gave them the 7-6 lead.
Byron Center would take the lead into the locker room of this one, as they scored the only second quarter points. Again, it was Tungate, using his legs with just over two minutes to play for a 2-yard carry. The Bulldogs elected to kick the PAT, and after that sailed through the uprights, they led 13-7.
Jace Clarizio gave East Lansing the lead just ninety seconds into the third quarter. His 5-yard touchdown run gave the Trojans a 14-13 advantage. Byron Center was quick to respond with a 16-yard touchdown toss from Tungate to Isaac Lee. The Bulldogs, ahead 20-14, looked ready for a shootout.
Over the last 20 minutes, this game was all East Lansing. They took the lead back with a Fletcher and Baker touchdown connection once more, an 18-yard touchdown. This gave them the 21-20 third quarter lead.
In the fourth quarter, East Lansing scored 20 unanswered points to bury the Bulldogs. Fletcher found Owen Fortman for a 5-yard touchdown with nine minutes left. On their next drive, Fletcher and Drew Watters paired up for an 85-yard touchdown explosion. Finally, with 1:41 to go, Clarizio broke free for a 49-yard score.
Landon Tungate completed 13 passes for 165 yards. He added 57 rushing yards on 20 yards. Benjamin Fletcher had 197 passing yards to lead the Trojans’ attack. Clarizio chipped in 153 rushing yards in this win.
Next week, East Lansing will return to the Semifinals for the first time since 2007 and the tenth time in program history (1977, 1983, 1991, 1992, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2023). They will face the winner of this Saturday’s regional championship bout between Saginaw Heritage and Muskegon.