Detroit -- Muskegon Catholic Central found itself trailing for the first time this season on Friday. But a big answer and a tough ground game turned things around as Muskegon CC rolled to a second straight state title with a 31-6 win over Munising in the Division 8 championship game.
Munising quarterback Austin Kelto found Andy Cooper for a 73-yard score on just the third play from scrimmage, sparking a huge roar from the folks that traveled from the Upper Peninsula to support the team.
But after a blocked extra point kept the score at 6-0, Central running back Tommy Scott took the kickoff 99 yards, a title-game record, for a touchdown to give his team a 7-6 lead just 13 seconds after falling behind.
"It was huge to get the momentum back right after they took the momentum in the first three plays," Scott said. "Making a big play like that can change a game."
Central (14-0) struggled on offense in the first half, but a dominant 18-play, 64-yard drive that ended in a field goal and a 10-6 lead was a sign of things to come.
After putting up just 85 yards in the first half, the Central offense came out in the third quarter and put together a 12-play, 64-yard drive that ended in 1-yard Scott touchdown.
"We thought we might have some trouble moving the ball," Central coach Steve Czerwon said. "They were definitely a good team up front. We got a few things going in the second half and made some plays."
Central finished with 239 total yards, including 198 on the ground.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, Scott struck again, this time scoring on a 30-yard run in which he bounced to the outside and fought his way across the goal line through two defenders. He found the end zone again in the fourth quarter, putting the game out of reach at 31-6 with his fourth score of the day.
Munising (12-2) had trouble finding a rhythm in the final three quarters as an adjustment in coverage by Central made it tough to move the ball. The ground game never got going and Munising finished the day with just 144 yards from scrimmage, more than half on that one big play early on.
"We did a good job containing them (in the first half), but we got a bit tired in the second," Munising coach Jeff Seaberg said. "They started to grind on us and it was too much to try and get back in."
The title is the 10th in school history for Central, but being able to win it two years in a row means something special to senior quarterback Nick Holt, who finished with 61 tough yards on the ground.
"It's amazing to be able to say that we went back-to-back," he said. "This class is never going to be forgotten."
Geoffrey Robinson is a freelance writer.