Martinez scores on 90-yard kick return; No. 3 Muskegon thunders past No. 8 Detroit King
Detroit — No. 3 Muskegon continued to flex its muscles Friday night, dominating a state champion for the second straight week to open the season.
After defeating Division 2 state champion Warren De La Salle 41-7 last week at Wayne State’s Adams Field, Muskegon made a return trip to the Motor City and defeated No. 8 Detroit King, 41-18.
It was a rematch of last year’s Division 3 state championship game won by King, 41-25 at Ford Field when Dequan Finn threw for four TDs and ran for another.
While Finn has graduated and moved on to Toledo, Cameron Martinez returned at quarterback for Muskegon.
And, the Ohio State-bound Martinez was the difference, showing why he is considered the most exciting player in the state, along with one of the toughest.
Martinez rushed for 180 yards on 25 carries, scoring on runs of 1 and 11 yards.
“It just shows the resiliency of my team,” said Martinez, who had 330 all-purpose yards and a hand in four TDs. “I don’t want any other team, and the coaching staff really prepares us for that, coming back (to Detroit) again and playing in an environment like this against a really good team that was hungry coming off a loss, so it was really a lot of credit to my team for showing up.”
And, when King — which lost to Detroit Catholic Central 24-22 last Saturday — pulled within 27-12 late in the third quarter, Martinez returned the kickoff 90 yards for a TD to open a 34-12 cushion at the conclusion of the third quarter.
Martinez was also 6 of 7 passing for 88 yards, including a 28-yard TD pass to Amari Crowley on a fourth-and-8 play with 3:32 left in the game for a 41-12 advantage. It was his lone pass of the second half.
Martinez’s kickoff return was the third TD in 30 seconds, as Muskegon’s Jacarri Kitchen-Thomas scored on an 8-yard run with 30 seconds left in the quarter for a 27-6 lead, ending a 66-yard, nine-play drive.
“We were expecting an onside kick so honestly I wasn’t expecting the ball," Martinez said. "I didn’t expect them to kick it high and right at me.
"Luckily, we got contain outside and we had really good blocks and were able to score."
Then, Lynn Wyche-El returned Muskegon’s short kick for 40 yards to the 17 with a penalty pushing it to the 8 to set up freshman quarterback Dante Moore’s TD pass to Indiana-bound receiver Rashawn Williams.
Muskegon held a 321-116 advantage in total yards heading into the fourth quarter, getting off nearly twice as many plays (47-24) as King.
King coach Tyrone Spencer had to feel his team was in good position at halftime, trailing 14-6 despite Muskegon holding a 182-69 advantage in total yards and getting off 21 more plays (35-14), piling up 122 rushing yards while limiting King’s running attack to 28 yards on eight carries.
Martinez directed a 58-yard, 10-play drive on the opening drive, but was tackled for a yard loss on a third and long play, making sure King would start its first drive from deep in its own territory (seven-yard line) following a punt.
And, after forcing King to a three-and-out, Muskegon got a short field to work with at the King 32. Martinez made a big play when he rolled left on fourth and six from the 28 and found Amari Crowley for a 25-yard pass to the 3, leading to Martinez’s 1-yard TD run with 1:44 left in the first quarter.
Moore then went to work, finding Wyche-El for 30 yards to the Muskegon 28, but the drive stalled and Moore’s punt pinned Muskegon back to its 8.
And, after forcing Muskegon to a three-and-out, King got the ball at the Muskegon 25 following a 17-yard punt. Maryland-bound running back Peny Boone broke loose for a 16-yard run to the 7 and three plays later, Marshawn Lee — out of the wildcat formation — scored on a 3-yard run with 7:13 left in the half, but the PAT was blocked, leaving Muskegon with a 7-6 lead.
Martinez and Muskegon quickly answered, and Martinez was at his best during a 73-yard, 13-play drive, capped off with his 11-yard TD run with 33 seconds left in the half. He rushed for 53 yards on seven carries during the pivotal drive, giving him 91 yards on 16 carries for the half.
Muskegon had a chance to add more points when it recovered the ensuing kickoff at King’s 43, but Martinez’s pass in the end zone to Crowley was incomplete with Montez Archer defending.
Martinez did find Kolbe Lewis for 18 yards to the 23, but Jose Gutierez’s 40-yard field goal came up short.
Muskegon set the tempo in the second half, as it did to start the game, when Moore was hit hard on the first play of the third quarter, fumbling the ball, and losing five yards with King recovering at the 10.
After Moore got off a 47-yard punt to Muskegon’s 43, Martinez broke loose for 56 yards to the King 1, leading to Japrie Henderson’s 5-yard TD run for a 21-6 lead.
Moore completed 8 of 14 passes for 71 yards and a TD and one interception. Boone was limited to 26 yards on eight carries.