Mona Shores gamble pays off
~~Saline – There’s another team in Muskegon that’s pretty good, too.
DeOntay Moffett rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns and Muskegon Mona Shores defeated Saline 31-28 on Friday at Saline.
Saline came in ranked No. 22 in the preseason and played the part in the first half.
Mona Shores, ranked No. 21, trailed by nine points in the first half then scored 19 straight to take a 31-21 lead.
Muskegon High is the team with the five state titles, two Division 2 final appearances in the last two years. And no program has more victories in this state than Muskegon.
And Mona Shores? Well the Sailors made the playoffs for the first time last year so the history of these programs couldn’t be more dissimilar.
Mona Shores Coach Matt Koziak used to be the head coach at Muskegon and he’s taking steps to turn this program around.
And he’s not afraid to take a gamble now and then.
Mona Shores led 28-21 and faced a fourth-and-1 from its 45-yard line when Koziak called time out with 5:41 remaining.
“Their offense is so good,” Koziak said. “And our defense had just had two good stops. I’m rambling here but, in the past, against Muskegon I could have gone for it and we didn’t get the ball back. I figured if we didn’t get it maybe we don’t deserve it. And if we made it, it could be the game.”
Mona Shores did go for it and quarterback Tyree Jackson ran four yards for the first down. Later in the drive Jacob DeRemer kicked his second field goal of the game, this one was from 29 yards out, to give Mona Shores a 31-21 lead with 2:32 left.
Saline closed to within three points on Trent Theisen’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Wolma with 58 seconds left but Kobe Burse recovered the onside kick and Mona Shores ran out the clock.
Koziak’s gutsy call apparently wasn’t all his to make. Jackson said he and his teammates convinced Koziak that the time was right to take a chance.
“We told him, you’ve got to trust us,” Jackson said. “It’s senior time. It’s the seniors’ year. I felt that was the game right there.
“They were squeezing DeOntay. The end came down and I took it. It’s the read option. It’s like a video game.”
Jackson makes the game look like a video game at times. At 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, he slithers through the line and has the strength to get an extra yard or two. And he has a strong, accurate arm.
Jackson was 9-for-16 passing for 107 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He had 15 carries for 83 yards.
Moffett was the workhorse with 28 carries.
Saline led 21-19 at halftime as each team made a few big plays including a couple on special teams.
Cal Criner of Saline returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown that gave Saline a 21-12 lead midway through the second quarter.
Jackson had an efficient half as he completed 7-of-11 attempts for 70 yards and one touchdown8 and he had nine carries for 83 yards.
He also had a 44-yard punt that pinned Saline down at its 5 and two plays later Elijah Wilson made diving catch for an interception at the Saline 10-yard line. On third down Moffett scored from a yard out to give Mona Shores a 12-7 lead with 8:25 left in the half.
The biggest offensive play for Saline came on the next possession as Josh Jackson threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Wolma that gave Saline a 14-12 lead.
Saline’s offense sputtered after that. It had just 43 yards in offense in the second half before it last scoring drive.