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Muskegon Big Reds turn in yet another dominate performance in D3 Semifinal, defeat Battle Creek Harper Creek 42-0
The Muskegon Big Reds turned in yet another dominate playoff performance in the 2017 season with a 42-0 win over previously undefeated Battle Creek Harper Creek in the Division 3 state semifinals on Saturday at East Kentwood HS. The Big Reds were led by their star QB La'Darius Jefferson who ran for 4 TD's and threw for another on the day, and their stout defense who earned the shutout. The Big Red defense was thoroughly dominate against the running attack of BC Harper Creek, allowing the Beavers into scoring range just once, which ended in a turnover on downs. This was the second straight playoff shutout for Muskegon, and the second straight game where most of the 2nd half was played with a running clock.
Muskegon started the game by forcing BCHC into a three-and-out on the opening drive. After a BCHC punt, the Big Reds immediately set the tone for the game as RB Lonnie Clark Jr. took their very first play from scrimmage to the house on a long TD run. On the very next series for BCHC, Demetrius Harris picked off the pass by BCHC QB Jackson Malone - setting up the Big Reds with good field position inside Beaver territory. Muskegon wouldn't be able to capitalize on the INT, failing to convert on a 4th down, and BCHC would get the ball back. After another 3-and-out, BCHC attempted a fake punt deep in their own territory - which the Muskegon D easily sniffed out and took over on downs at the BCHC 36 yard line. After bruising their way deep into BCHC territory behind the run game again, Muskegon's LaDarius Jefferson would take it in for the TD on a 2 yard run, making the Muskegon lead 14-0 at the close of the 1st quarter.
Early in the 2nd quarter, after the Muskegon defense forced a BCHC punt, the offense marched down the field, again running the ball behind their massive offensive line. The Big Reds capped the drive with another LaDarius Jefferson TD run from short yardage to make the lead 21-0. After yet another quick defensive stop by the Muskegon defense, the Big Reds got the ball back and struck quickly with a long TD pass from LaDarius Jefferson to WR/RB Clinton Jefferson to make the lead 28-0 going into the half.
Muskegon received the ball to start the 2nd half and had no trouble driving deep into BCHC territory once again. After a nice TD run by Davion McCall was called back on a holding penalty, LaDarius Jefferson took the very next play in for his third rushing TD on the afternoon from about 15 yards out to make the Muskegon lead 35-0 and start the running clock that the Big Reds have become so accustomed to this season. LaDarius Jefferson capped off the scoring for the afternoon with his 4th rushing TD on the day, this one from 38 yards out and a great run from the star senior QB.
The second half moved quickly once the running clock was in effect. Even as Muskegon inserted their backups in at most positions, the BCHC offense was unable to create anything significant on the offensive side of the ball. It was clear that the BCHC coaching staff was digging into their playbook and searching for an answer to the stout Muskegon defense, but to no avail. Muskegon went into victory formation as the 4th quarter ran down and locked up the shutout and a trip to Ford Field.
Muskegon will make a state final appearance at Ford Field for the fifth time in the past six seasons, yet the Big Reds have not won that elusive title in that span. After last year's last-minute heartbreaking loss to Orchard Lake St Mary's in the D3 Final, the Big Reds have carried a chip on their shoulder all season and will no doubt be ready come next weekend to fight for the state championship.
The Big Reds will meet Farmington Hills Harrison in the Division 3 state final, who beat Riverview today 21-0. Farmingtion Hills Harrison, a perennial powerhouse in their own right, had somewhat of a down season just sneaking into the playoffs at 6-3. However since then the Hawks have rattled off some impressive playoff wins en route to the final.
Farmington Hills Harrison is coached by Michigan's all-time winningest head coach, John Herrington. The Muskegon Big Reds are Michigan's all-time winningest program. The 2017 Division 3 MHSAA State Final match up should be a good one. See you at Ford Field!