Unity Christian wins opening night shootout

Unity Christian scores against Allendale in the first period of the season opener at Aug. 24, 2017.

ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — Unity Christian came out on top in a running back duel Thursday night to beat Allendale 52-44.

Both teams had a player reach the end zone four times in the 2017 high school football season opener.

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Unity Christian running back Max Buikema scored once in each quarter with touchdown runs of 29 yards, 12 yards, 4 yards and 3 yards. Crusaders quarterback Tyce VanderGoot also scored three times on the ground.

Allendale sophomore running back Owen Burk matched Buikema’s impressive touchdown total, including a 58-yard run in the second quarter.

After Unity Christian jumped out to a 14-0 lead, Allendale quickly tied the game early in the second quarter. For the rest of the game, the two schools traded rushing touchdowns.

In a game without many defense stops, a fourth down defensive stand ended up being the most critical play. Allendale, marching in Unity Christian territory for the tying score with just more than a minute left, fumbled the ball on 4th and 1. With Allendale out of timeouts, the fumble sealed the win for Unity Christian.

“It’s just a good sign,” Buikema told 24 Hour News 8 about the win. “It’s a good sign for the rest of the season.”

Unity Christian is coming off the school’s best season in program history, which ended just one win away from Ford Field.

“There was a lot of good blocking, Buikema said, adding “We have a lot to improve on defense.”

This is the fourth straight time that Allendale has started the year by losing to Unity Christian. Last year, Allendale bounced back to finish the season 10-3.

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