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Late field goal advances Muskegon past Lowell in district final, 15-13

A mention of Muskegon football conjures of thoughts of athleticism, speed and physical toughness.

In Friday night’s Division 2 district final 15-13 win over Lowell, the Big Reds added mental toughness.

After missing an extra point and having a second one blocked, Adrian Briseno tried with all of his might to wipe away those memories and any nerves as he lined up a 27-yard field go with 1:40 to play and his club trailing 13-12.

“I was really nervous. I didn’t know if I was going to make it. That’s how nervous I was,” Briseno explained moments after his kicked sailed high, true and through the uprights advancing Muskegon to the regional title game on Saturday to play Midland, a 28-16 winner over Traverse City Central.

Muskegon football coach Shane Fairfield admitted that in recent years he may have passed on a field goal attempt and instead went for a first down on fourth and six.

“That kid (Briseno) comes out here in the cold and kicks and kicks. With people in front of him tonight, he nailed it. I cashed one in on the football Gods,” Fairfield explained.

Lowell football coach Noel Dean’s Red Arrows were unable to muster any last minute heroics from their own 33 yard line.

“I wished the kid was kicking an extra point at the end instead of a field goal,”quipped Lowell football coach Noel Dean. But it was a nice kick in a pressure situation. Good for them.”

Not so good for Lowell who fails to advance to the regional final for the first time since 2006. Ironically, it was Muskegon, then, who knocked the Red Arrows out in the district final.

“It was a heck of an effort that came right down to the end. I am very proud of them,” Dean said about his club. It was a tough out. I’ve known these kids since they were little boys. My son has grown up with this crew. It’s hard to watch these seniors who you care about so much graduate because you want more for them.”

Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield and his Big Reds wanted a post-season win over Lowell something that has eluded in each of the previous two years.

“Since arriving here at Muskegon, we’ve lost six games. Two of those came to Lowell. It makes tonight’s victory more special than most,” Fairfield said. “I talked to these kids all week about displaying mental toughness and discipline and not allowing little things get in the way of achieving success.”

An electric 52-yard run by Jalen Smith set up Muskegon’s first-quarter touchdown with Deshaun Thrower bursting in from the two-yard line.

Lowell grabbed the lead in the second quarter when Kyle Shurlow connected with Benjamin Bigham on a 47-yard pitch and catch, giving Lowell a 7-6 lead.
The Red Arrows extended their lead to 13-6 in the third quarter when Titan Anderson busted in from the one yard line, capping a 14 play, 56 yard scoring drive.

Muskegon answered as it went 42 yards in four plays on it next possession with Thrower finding Marcus on a 46-yard wheel route. The extra point was blocked and the Big Reds trailed 13-12.

“The victory tonight is the biggest win of my coaching career,” Fairfield said. “It was a hard nosed win over a tough-nosed football team. That’s one of the best defenses we’ve seen all year. Lowell was better tonight than they were before and that’s what you’re going to get from a Lowell football team.”

Muskegon finished with 248 total yards agians tthe Red Arrows. Lowell (8-3) accumulated 260.

 

 

 

 

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