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Momentum changers lift Muskegon past Lowell, 36-21

Shane Fairfield talked to his Big Reds, prior to Friday night’s matchup with Lowell, about having an answer to Red Arrow big plays and scoring drives.

“I called them momentum changers,” he explained after Muskegon’s 36-21 victory in the battle of Division 2’s top two ranked teams in the state.

The Lowell, Muskegon rivalry has been built on playoff confrontations over the last five years. The Red Arrows came in having won the last three meetings.
Friday, however, was different. It wasn’t win or go home.

“Playing Lowell during the regular season was a chance for our guys to go out and enjoy the night and to take in what they have invested into. It was great out here tonight. This is what high school football is about,” Fairfield said.

The Big Reds biggest game changer on Friday night came in a span of 10 seconds. Lowell came out in the second half and on a 73-yard pass-and-catch from Titan Anderson to Cody Bieri took its first lead of the night 21-20.

After an exchange of punts, Marcus Smith turned the corner on the Red Arrow defense and raced down the Muskegon sideline for an 88 yard touchdown, re-establishing the Big Reds as the game’s lead dog, 26-21.

“We had a breakdown their at about the 10. Had we been able to keep them there maybe we could have been able to come away with a different outcome,” said Lowell football coach Noel Dean.

What followed on Lowell’s next possession may very well have sealed its fate. A bad snap from center on fourth down at its own 28 yard line, set Muskegon up first-and goal from the Lowell four. Two plays later John Hall punched it in from the three, extending Muskegon’s lead to 12 at 33-21.

“Muskegon is a well organized football team and speed is a strong component of that,” Dean said afterwards. “I’m proud of our kids and the enthusiasm they played with and now its about getting back to work. We will begin to do that Monday morning (6 a.m.).

The Big Reds grabbed and early first-quarter lead on a 15-yard touchdown burst from Smith. They extended their lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter when Smith did it again, scoring from 27 yards out this time.

The Red Arrows facing an early exit from game relevance, battled back. Anderson connected with Kyler Shurlow on a 15-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone, cutting the deficit to 14-7.

Smith, as he did all night, had a answer… a momentum changing play. He raced 43 yards on the Big Reds next possession building the lead up to 20-7.

Lowell responded with a six-play, 45-yard scoring drive that ended with Anderson sneaking over from the two yard line.

Muskegon added a 22-yard field from Adrian Briseno late in the fourth quarter.

Over a three week stretch, Lowell finishes 2-1 against O-K Red opponents. The Red Arrows defeated Rockford and Grand Haven before losing to the Big Reds.

Muskegon’s win Friday night is what many believe is just the first of two meetings between these football powerhouses. The next is likely to come in the playoffs.

“Can someone please beat them in the first round,” Fairfield concluded.