Muskegon suffers heartbreaking loss in Division 3 state final

DETROIT (WOOD) — The Muskegon football team appeared in its fourth MHSAA state championship game in the last five seasons on Saturday night against two-time defending champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

Unfortunately, an all too familiar outcome ensued.

A touchdown pass in the waning seconds of the game sent the Big Reds to a stunning 29-28 loss in the Division 3 state finals at Ford Field.

It was the fourth runner-up finish for Muskegon (12-2) since 2013. The Big Reds also lost to the Eaglets in the 2014 title game, 7-0.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s quarterback Caden Prieskorn tossed an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kyren Cunningham with 4 seconds remaining for the game-winner.

“We won 12 games and we played for a state championship,” Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield said. “We’re not going to apologize for losing because we had a better chance than anybody else to win it and we didnt, so if I think if everyone is tired of me getting here and losing then beat me before I get here.”

Muskegon put itself in position to win its first state crown since 2008 after La’darius Jefferson scored on a 3-yard run to give his team a 28-23 lead with 1:55 left.

“He said if we run that play one more time then I promise all the seniors I will get in and score and he did,” Fairfield said. “And then it fell on the defense and we just needed a stop or interception and that pass interference call (on that drive) hurt us.”

The scoring drive came on the heels of a state-record 49-yard field goal by Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Ben Fee that put them a 23-21 edge with less than 5 minutes remaining.

The lead changed hands five times in the second half after Muskegon held a slim 14-13 lead at the half.
Jefferson rushed for 57 yards and two touchdowns, while senior Kalil Pimpleton finished with 56 yards on nine carries and a pair of 18-yard touchdown runs.

“I’m tired of all the naysayers bashing these kids and thinking we can’t win the big one,” Fairfield said. “Well, we won a lot of big ones to get here and it’s our goal to win this and we’ll just prove what life is all about.

“We’re going to go back to the grind, keep pushing forward and if all goes well we will be back here again fighting until we get it.”