Buchanan's Cordel Johnson tries to break loose from a Muskegon Heights defender. (Daily Star photo/TOM NYHUIS)
Buchanan's Cordel Johnson tries to break loose from a Muskegon Heights defender. (Daily Star photo/TOM NYHUIS)

Archived Story

Muskegon Heights nips Buchanan 24-21

Published 12:25am Saturday, October 24, 2009

By TOM NYHUIS
Niles Daily Star

BUCHANAN – With its season on the line, Buchanan’s hopes of picking up their fifth straight win came up short Friday night at Memorial Field as the Bucks fell to No. 8 ranked Muskegon Heights 24-21 in a non-league contest.

A snap to the Muskegon Heights (7-2) punter at the Tiger 15 sailed over his head and out of the end zone giving the Bucks the safety and a 21-16 lead with 6:48 to play in the game.

The free kick by the Tigers set the Bucks up at the 47 but Buchanan (5-4) could only pick up four yards in their next three plays and were forced to punt the ball back into the hands of Muskegon Heights.

“Well dog-gone it all we needed to do was to come up with a stop there after we got the safety,” Buchanan coach Joe Austin said following the loss. “It was just a great effort by us and we just came up a little short. I can’t say enough about the great effort from the coaching staff and the players here at Buchanan and we are very proud of them. To finish strong against a quality team speaks highly about our kids and our conference and I think we represented well.”

The Tigers took over at their own 20 with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Muskegon Heights junior quarterback Willie Snead moved his team down the field hitting 2-of-3 passes for 37 yards and ran for another 26 punching the ball in from the 3-yard line with 28 seconds remaining in the game and the 2-point conversion gave the Tigers the 24-21 win.

Muskegon’s kick off was covered by the Tigers at the 45 to seal the victory.

Buchanan scored first in the game after the Tigers second fumble of the half. Nick Troxel put a hard hit on Snead knocking the ball loose with Tyler Ganus scooping up the ball taking it to the 13. Five plays later Buchanan’s junior quarterback Bryan Kuntz plunged into the end zone from the one.

The Tigers countered with a 10-play drive covering 57 yards with Snead picking up the 1-yard scoring run. Snead also ran in the point after to give the Tigers an 8-6 lead with 3:53 to play in the first half.

In the second half after the Bucks opening drive stalled and they were forced to punt to the Tigers they turned the ball back over to the Bucks for the third time in the game. This time David Sokolowski picked off a Snead pass at the Buchanan 40.

Kuntz hit Sokolowski for a 27 yard pick up to move the ball to the 19 and four plays later Cordel Johnson pounded his way into the end zone from the 11 and the Bucks were back on top 12-8 with 3:10 to play in the third quarter. Muskegon Heights responded taking the ball down the field in 12 plays for another score.

Snead hit a wide open Darryl Terrell for an 18 yard strike in the end zone and Maurice Day gave the Tigers a 16-12 lead with his run of the 2-point conversion with 11:09 to play in the game.

The Bucks rallied right back pushing the ball down the field with Kuntz hitting Johnson for a 20 yard pass play and an unsportsmanlike penalty placed the ball at the 16. After a 8-yard gain by Adam Byrdak, Johnson bulled his way into the end zone from the 8-yard line the the Bucks were back on top 19-16 with 9:19 to play.

The Buck defense came up with a huge stop and on a fourth and 25 at the 15 the Tigers were forced to punt the ball away. The snap sailed over the kicker’s head and out of the end zone were Buchanan picked up the two -points and a 21-16 advantage.

Buchanan was held to just 83 yards rushing and 78 passing yards with Kuntz hitting 7-of-12 to six different receivers. Johnson picked up 54 yards rushing and had 29 receiving yards to go with his two touchdowns.

The Tigers finished the night with 340 total yards of offense, 199 on the ground and 141 passing with Snead hitting 10-of-18 with an interception. Derrick Johnson led Muskegon with 72 yards rushing and 25 yard passing.

“We were a little banged up coming in and we got a little more banged up through out the course of the game but we hung tough and played hard,” Austin said. Senior Spencer Anglero was taken off the field on a stretcher midway through the second quarter.

The Bucks finish their regular season co-champions of the Lakeland Conference with a 5-1 record after a 16-14 win by Berrien Springs over Edwardsburg also gives the Shamrocks a 5-1 league mark.

“We had our opportunities and you just can’t let these guys hang around the goal line and we gave them way to many chances and they are an explosive team. We did such a nice job on them for 75 percent of the time and you can tell they are pretty skilled players. We thought we had them there but it just wasn’t in the cards,” Austin said.

Muskegon Heights 0 8 0 16 – 24
Buchanan 0 6 6 9 – 21

B – Bryan Kuntz 1 run (kick failed)
MH – Willie Snead 1 run ( Snead run)
B – Cordel Johnson 11 run (kick failed)
MH – Darryl Terrell 18 pass from Snead (Maurice Day run)
B – Johnson 8 run (Ryan Catalano kick)
B – Safety (MH bad snap goes out of end zone)
MH – Snead 3 run (Derrick Johnson run)

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