Mona Shores’ risky conversion keys semifinal win
Howell — Muskegon Mona Shores’ magical run will continue to Ford Field.
The Sailors defeated Farmington Hills Harrison, 25-24, in a wild Division 2 semifinal on Saturday at Howell High School to earn their first trip to finals.
Mona Shores (12-1) will play Warren De La Salle (10-3) on Friday for the title at 1 p.m.
“It’s pretty emotional,” Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak said. “I thought when we beat Muskegon for the conference title that, that feeling couldn’t be topped. And to win the way we did, losing our best player, then our back up quarter back, guys just stepped up and made plays.
Mona Shores quarterback Tyree Jackson suffered a knee injury in the first half and didn’t return. His availability for Friday’s game is uncertain.
Mona Shores trialed Harrison (11-2) 24-17 thanks to a 41-yard touchdown reception by Harrison junior Jared Char with 11:51 left in the game.
On the ensuing possession Mona Shores second-string quarterback Tyler Trovinger was injured from a helmet-to-helmet hit. Trovinger who was taken to a local hospital afterward.
Third string quarterback Elijah Wilson took over to start the next Mona Shores drive.
“My emotions were crazy,” Wilson said. “I was nervous. But you have to play as team and believe. If you believe in the system anything can happen, and we were going to get it done as a team.”
Wilson completed a two-play drive when he found junior wide receiver Kobe Burse for a 76-yard touchdown to pull the Sailors within one, 24-23, with 4:11 left in the game.
“It was next man up,” Burse said. “We are one team, one family. It didn’t matter who my quarterback was. After I caught the ball, I was just thinking ‘score’.”
Koziak called for a two-point conversion earlier in the game, but he said he had doubts about going for the win.
“There was a lot of doubt (in my mind) about going for two. Tyree is our holder, and our Tyler is our back-up holder. During the timeout, I made up my mind. I knew Harrison would play man, and we’d go for it,” he said.
The gamble paid off on a play that Mona Shores never ran before. Wilson rolled out to his right, and hit senior Noah Dykstra in the end zone for a 25-24 lead.
Harrison dictated the pace early building off a 30-yard field goal from Alex Bolstrom in the first quarter. On the ensuing drive, the Hawks used an 83-yard touchdown pass on third-and-17 from Jevon Shaw to Iwarri Smith for a 10-0 lead.
The Sailors cut into the lead, 10-7, off a 13-yard touchdown run by DeOntay Moffett with 2:43 left before earning a safety to end the quarter down 10-9.
Harrison added to its lead when junior Anthony Giovanni hit fellow senior Michael Ojemudia a 10-yard touchdown catch for a 17-9 lead with 6:59 left in the half.
In the third quarter, Tyler Trovinger scored on a 1-yard touchdown run that would not only cut into Harrison’s lead, but also allow them to tie the game, 17-17, after he completed a two-point conversion pass to Burse.
After the game, Koziak tried to sum up his team’s historic run.
“You can’t put this into words. The first time we ever made the playoffs was last year. And the way these kids prepare in the weight room, and in practice, and believing in what we do, I don’t think it’ll set in,” he said. “This game defines who we are. Our kids kept saying ‘we got this, we got this’, and they keep finding a way to win.”