Brother Rice repeats as Division 2 State Champs in 35-28 thriller over Muskegon
DETROIT – In a game that was all tied at 14 through three quarters, having been dominated by both defenses, the 4th quarter quickly turned into an offensive explosion. Five touchdowns were scored in a span of 7:18 seconds and this game came down to the final seconds. Not many schools have much tradition as Brother Rice and Muskegon, and this final only added to it.
Brother Rice scored on it’s first two possessions and took a 14-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter. Senior quarterback Cheyne Lacanaria started the game and hit younger brother Corey in the back of the endzone for a 16-yard touchdown pass. On their very next possession Brother Rice shuffled quarterbacks and sophomore Alex Malzone engineered an 11 play, 76 yard drive that ended with Josh Flye scoring from 9 yards out with 10:12 left before half.
Muskegon responded with a 10 play, 80 yard drive of their own, capped off by a Javontae Langston 3-yard touchdown run. The Brother Rice offense stalled after scoring on it’s first two drives and the defense had a hard time defending Muskegon’s run option offense. Quarterback Jalen Smith rushed for 149 yards on 17 carries,but was knocked from the game late in the 3rd. Junior Deshaun Thrower replaced him and score 2 plays after Smith’s injury from a yard out with 1:58 on the clock.
Unable to get their offense restarted, Brother Rice turned to their defense for a huge spark. Shaun Jones recovered a Muskegon fumble on their 12-yard line and Shon Powell finished it off with a 12-yard score. Powell rushed for 97 yards and a score. The Warriors gain some much needed momentum after that, but it was short lived. A costly pass interference call on 4th and 9 enabled Muskegon to keep their drive alive and tie the game. Marcus Smith ended a 14 play drive that lasted a little over six minutes with an 11-yard touchdown run with 4:22 left in the game.
Both teams used short drives that ended in long scoring plays to add even more suspense to this State title game. Corey Lacanaria found the endzone once again on a 77-yard flea flicker and Keondre Craig streaked down the middle of the field for a 51-yard touchdown reception with 2:31 remaining. Then perhaps the biggest play of the whole game occurred to put Brother Rice ahead for good.. On the ensuing kickoff, Delano Madison caught the ball and lateraled it to Jason Alessi who took it up the sidelines for 91-yards untouched. Coach Al Fracassa later said they practiced that play all week but didn’t think it was the right time to use it. Turned out he was wrong.
That proved to be the nail in the coffin for the Big Reds, or so it seemed After Muskegon turned it over on downs, Brother Rice took over at the 2-yard line and the stadium began to empty thinking it was all over. However, a fumbled snap by Cheyne Lacanaria was recovered by Demetrius Brown and gave Muskegon new life. But with just :55 seconds left, no time outs, and 98 yards to go, they would need a little luck. They made a valiant push at a comeback, but came up just short on a last second desperation hail mary. The Brother Rice players stormed the field and were once again Division 2 State Champions for the second year in a row.