Detroit — Brandon Adams scored the game's lone touchdown, just days after his mother passed away, to lead Orchard Lake St. Mary's to a 7-0 victory over Muskegon in an old-school, smash-mouth Division 3 state football championship game Saturday night at Ford Field.
OLSM coach George Porritt handed the championship trophy to Adams after receiving it following the game to start the celebration, then gave him the game ball in the team huddle.
"My mom was a big part of my life and she will definitely be missed and she was definitely fuel to the fire for this game for our team and we came out strong," said Adams, who scored on a 1-yard run to cap off a 34-yard drive midway through the first quarter. "We said that last drive, we get that first down and we'll win the game, and we did."
Sophomore linebacker Dwayne Chapman intercepted a pass on a Muskegon fourth-and-3 from the OLSM 31 with 6:37 left. Orchard Lake St. Mary's then converted three third downs and a fourth down to run out the clock and start celebrating the school's first state title since 2011 and Porritt's fifth since 1994.
"I can't describe it," Adams said of his touchdown run, adding when asked if he told his mom he'd bring home a championship, "Yes, I sure did. That's one of the last things I ever said to her.
"Like I said throughout the whole season my teammates are my brothers, and last night we had a memorial service at the Grotto at St. Mary's and probably over 200 people showed up, the entire team showed up, the entire community showed up, and that just shows how much we care about each other, and I would do the same thing for one of my teammates if it was happening to them."
It was the first time Muskegon was blanked in 200 games. The last time it happened was Sept. 26, 1997.
"That was a big effort by our defense," Porritt said. "I couldn't be more proud of them."
Of Adams' effort, Porritt replied: "It's special, special. I said it before, all these kids gathered around last night for him and his family and it's a special meaning to a team."
OLSM (12-2) allowed just 28 points during its five-game postseason run, allowing Muskegon (12-2) to pick up just 168 total yards.
OLSM gained just 164 with 50 coming during the game's final drive. And it all started with Chapman's interception.
"I got a chance to get it and I did," Chapman said. "I'm so proud of my team. We practiced all week to stop the run. One of my closest friends and teammate's mom had just passed away Thanksgiving, and we played for her. We had something to play for and we accomplished it. I'm so proud of my teammates and it was big for him (Adams) to score that touchdown, too."
Chapman had seven tackles, joining sophomore linebacker Josh Ross and senior Jared Mosley for team-high honors. OLSM had 10 tackles for loss. Tyler Cochran and Ross Moore also intercepted passes for the Eaglets.
"He picked that ball off, and I was just hoping he'd hang on to it," Porritt said of Chapman's interception. "He's going to be a heck of a linebacker. He's just a sophomore and he's getting better every week."
Tarrion Hill-Mckay had 20 tackles for Muskegon and Alezay Coleman had 13 tackles and two forced fumbles, including one to stop an OLSM drive at the Muskegon 3 in the second quarter.
Muskegon, which lost yardage or failed to gain yardage on seven of its first eight plays, then advanced all the way to OLSM 3, but on fourth-and-goal the Eaglets penetrated the line and hauled down Caleb Washington for no gain with Joshua Dabney hitting him low and Chapman hitting him high.
Muskegon held a 101-71 advantage in total yards at halftime, with the majority coming on that one drive. Yards were hard to come by the rest of the night for both teams.
OLSM junior quarterback Brandon Tabone struggled against Muskegon's pressure. He threw the deep ball on a number of occasions to sophomore Kahlee Hamler in the opening half but failed to connect against double coverage. He did connect with Moore for 12 yards on a third-and-8, the first of the three third-down conversions on the game's final drive.
It was a battle of field position in the second half. Muskegon moved into OLSM territory early in the third quarter, but the drive stalled at the 38 when — who else? — Chapman stopped Washington for a loss of 2 yards on third-and-9, forcing a punt.