GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — East Grand Rapids returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, then used its stout defense to defeat Grand Rapids Christian on the road 28-7 in a battle of unbeatens.
East Grand Rapids clinched a playoff spot with their sixth win. The Pioneers hadn’t started a season 6-0 since 2010, the last time the Pioneers won a state title.
Connor Davis ignited the Pioneers by scoring on the opening kickoff return, the first time he’s ever returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
“I caught the ball and next thing I knew I was in the end zone,” David said. “It happened really quick.”
Grand Rapids Christian looked poised to answer on its first drive, before fumbling inside the 5-yard line.
The Eagles were able to tie the game midway through the first quarter when Isaac Dykema hit James Patrick for a touchdown.
East Grand Rapids took the lead back early in the second quarter on a 30-yard run by quarterback Michael Malewitz.
The Pioneers were then able to seize control as they piled up 270 yards on the ground. Davis rushed for two scores in the second half to go along with his touchdown return.
East Grand Rapids Coach Casey Longo said it was important for his team to remain poised after scoring on the opening kickoff.
“We talk about playing even through the game, because there’s going to be ups and downs,” Longo said. “Our kids did a nice job of not getting too far ahead, because there was a lot of game left.”
Grand Rapids Christian’s offense struggled mightily against the Pioneers’ defense. Christian had averaged 45 points per game before being held to just 7 by the Pioneers.
Grand Rapids Christian failed three times on fourth down, including on the opening possession of the second half in Eagles’ territory.
“(Grand Rapids Christian) likes to air it out,” Davis said. “It’s really impressive to see our defense hold them to 7 points.”
Grand Rapids Christian Coach Don Fellows remained optimistic about his 5-1 team.
“We need one more win to get in the playoffs. We’ll try to get better over the next three weeks. One game doesn’t define you.”
Grand Rapids Christian will look to bounce back at Forest Hills Eastern next week, while East Grand Rapids travels to Wayland.