Quarterback duo leads Muskegon past Edwardsburg and into Division 3 Final
Kentwood - Maybe an opponent will someone figure out how to put the brakes on Muskegon's punishing ground game, but time is running out.
The Big Reds soared into their seventh state championship game since 2004 with a 19-8 victory over Edwardsburg in Saturday's chilly Division 3 semifinal at East Kentwood.
Muskegon's outstanding quarterback duo of Kalil Pimpleton and La'darius Jefferson each ran for over 100 yards with Jefferson adding a pair of touchdowns as the Big Reds (12-1) advanced to Saturday's 7:30 p.m. state championship game at Ford Field against Orchard Lake St. Mary's (9-4).
The win was another clear indication of opponents not finding a way to stop a Muskegon ground game that is mostly responsible for the team averaging nearly 53 points per game this season.
"We've seen a few different defenses, but they haven't really stopped us from playing our game," Pimpleton said. "The coaches come up with great game plans and we execute them."
The 5-foot-7, 180-pound Pimpleton finished with 103 rushing yards. Jefferson ran for 153 yards, including touchdown runs of 79 and 3 yards that made the score 19-0 with 7:43 left in the third quarter.
Muskegon's first score came on an 11-yard run by Andrew Ward.
Edwardsburg (12-1), just one of nine unbeaten teams entering the semifinals, avoided the shutout with a 21-yard touchdown by Austin Cline with 2:34 to go.
Pimpleton and Jefferson say there is absolutely no rivalry between the pair in who carries the ball, gains the yards or scores the touchdowns.
"We don't think about that stuff, the yards or snaps or touchdowns," Jefferson said. "We just want to go out and win - that's our goal. We just keep working harder to push each other."
That's exactly how Pimpleton sees it.
"We just go out and play our game. We want to have one more point that the other team," he said.
While the Big Reds' ground game was impressive on a day which included swirling winds, snow and temperatures hovering in the mid-thirties, the defense could have been even better. Edwardsburg entered the game having punted just five times all season while averaging 42.8 points per game. No team had come any closer to them than 27 points before a 42-40 overtime victory over Chelsea last week.
"In a game like this, that's the true thing," Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield said of the defense. "Defense wins championships. Edwardsburg is very good at what they do and to keep them out of the end zone (until the end) says a lot about the character of the kids and the defense."
Muskegon is now 22-7 in the state tournament since 2009, with four of those losses coming against Lowell. Muskegon, which is 57-10 overall since 2012, will be playing in its seventh state title game since winning a Division 2 title in 2004. Muskegon's last championship came in Division 2 in 2008.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Remember to watch the highlights from this game on the STATE CHAMPS! HS Sports Show, Sunday morning at 9:00 am on Fox Sports Detroit!