Neither team played their best game of the season on Friday night, but Kent City played good enough to come away with a 14-8 victory over Grand Rapids Northpointe Christian, advancing them to the District Finals for the third time in four years. Kent City’s defense forced four turnovers on a frigid Friday night, and were able to stop Northpointe Christian twice inside the red zone on three tries. The offense pounded the football eating up the game clock and limiting Northpointe’s possessions, while the special teams set up Kent City’s first score of the game. Kent City is one of only 16 teams in their division still playing football, which in other team sports would be akin to advancing to the Regional finals.
Kent City got off to a fast start with the help of its defense and special teams. Jesus Hernandez threw the Northpointe quarterback for a 12 yard loss on second down forcing the Mustangs into a punting situation from their own 31 yard line. The Northpointe long snapper sailed the football over the punters head and a charging Casen Armstrong forced a hurried punt from the Mustangs’ own end zone, the ball landed seven yards behind the line of scrimmage, giving the Eagles great field position for their first offensive possession of the game. Kent City’s offense used five plays to travel 24 yards, including a 1 yard touchdown run by Max Hudson to quickly put Kent City on the board. The extra point try was blocked making the score 6-0.
The Mustangs looked like they might answer on their next possession. On the kickoff, the Northpointe returner found a seam and broke loose but Trent Buckner was there to make the tackle. With favorable field position, the Mustangs advance all the way to the Kent City 30 before the Eagles forced a turnover on downs to start their next offensive possession. Kent City’s offense went on the attack. Max Hudson broke free and was tackled at the 4 yard line, but the play was eradicated by a holding call. Northpointe regained possession when they forced a fumble on fourth down and returned it to mid-field. Kent City would get the ball right back though when Bradley Brooks intercepted a Mustang pass. After a three and out, Spencer Hartley flipped the field on the Mustangs with a 36 yard punt. Northpointe threatened in big way, advancing all the way to Kent City four yard line where they had it first and goal. Senior Dolan Bair was not about to back down though, jamming a Mustang receiver on third down to help force an incomplete pass and then on fourth down hitting the Northpointe running back deep in his own backfield to end the drive. Kent City went into the locker room with a 6-0 lead.
Kent City extended their lead on their first possession of the second half. Following a short kick by the Mustangs, Kent City’s offense pounded the football driving 74 yards on 12 plays. The score came via a 12 yard Eli Carlson pass to Max Hudson who made a defender miss and rumbled into the end zone on 4th down. Kent City executed a successful 2 point conversion play when Carlson again found Hudson in the end-zone to increase the lead to Kent City 14 Northpointe 0. The Mustangs moved the football into Kent City territory again, until Jake Anderson jumped on a fumble giving Kent City the ball back at their own 36 yard line. The Eagles were on the move again, until like the first half, a fumble inside the red zone thwarted another Kent City touchdown.
Northpointe Christian went on a drive of their own, advancing into the red zone when Jayden Williams pounced on a fumble. However, perhaps it was the cold weather, as only two plays later, Northpointe regained possession on a Kent City fumble. The Mustangs capitalized on this possession scoring their first touchdown of the game and successfully completing the two point conversion to make the score Kent City 14 Northpointe 8 with just over four minutes to play in the contest. The offense ate up most of the clock advancing all the way to the Northpointe 6 yard line before the Mustangs were able to stop Kent City on 4th and short to get the ball back with under one minute remaining. Bradley Brooks stopped Northpointe’s last drive with another interception, giving the Eagles a 14-8 victory and their third appearance in the District Finals in four seasons.
Max Hudson lead Kent City with 79 yards rushing and two touchdowns (1 rushing and 1 receiving). Defensively, Bradley Brooks recorded two interceptions, his second game this season with two takeaways. The win improves Kent City’s record to 7-3 on the season. Kent City will now travel to Pewamo Westphalia who defeated North Muskegon 35-0 in their pre-district game. The game date and time have yet to be announced.