Birmingham Brother Rice and coach Al Fracassa go for their eighth state championship today at 1 p.m. at Ford Field. Rice (11-2) takes on Muskegon (12-1) in the Division 2 championship game. It’s one of four title games today, and four more follow Saturday, including the Division 1 championship game between Detroit Catholic Central and Detroit Cass Tech.
Live Updates EndedPlease read below for an archived view of this event.
It was a wild fourth quarter at Ford Field as Brother Rice captured back-to-back Division 2 state championships for the first time with a win over Muskegon.
It appeared Brother Rice had seized control of this game when they took a 21-14 lead early in the final stanza. But Muskegon backup quarterback Deshun Thrower came in when starter Jalen Smith went down with an ankle injury. Thrower would score a touchdown and lead his team to two game-tying drives.
Even when it looked over as Brother Rice lined up in the victory formation after having stopped Muskegon with 58 seconds remaining, it wasn’t. Brother Rice fumbled the snap and Muskegon had a chance to drive the field with no timeouts.
Muskegon got the ball to midfield but could not convert a hail mary as the clock ran out.
It was a total team effort for Brother Rice and Muskegon, who put on one heck of a show the day after thanksgiving.
Brother Rice took a page out of the old Tennessee Titans playbook, throwing a backwards pass on the kickoff and taking the ball 91 yards for a touchdown.
The game was tied at 14 through three quarters and both teams have put on quite a show in the final stanza. With 2:13 left, there’s plenty more that could happen with the way these teams are playing.
Keondre Craig caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Deshun Thrower to tie the game at 28. Craig got behind the defense and hauled this one in with ease.
That score took less than a minute. Brother Rice will get the ball back with 2:31 on the clock and a chance to drive for a state title.
Alex Malzone found Corey Lacanaria for a 77-yard touchdown on a flea-flicker that completely fooled the Muskegon defense.
The score came with 3:29 remaining in the game. Muskegon and backup quarterback Deshun Thrower will have to bounce back. It’s important to note that the Brother Rice defense has been on the field for a long time in this one, and the quick score by their offense could exploit their stamina.
Marcus Smith took a pitch from quarterback Deshun Thrower 11 yards for a touchdown to tie the game with just over four minutes remaining. Thrower came into the game for a nicked-up Jalen Smith and drove Muskegon down the field and into Brother Rice territory.
Brother Rice appeared to have stalled the drive on a long fourth down attempt by Muskegon, but pass interference was called and Muskegon took advantage.
Jalen Smith was having a great game, but the Muskegon quarterback made a bad decision to try and pitch the ball with a tackler bearing down on him. Instead of tucking the ball and taking the sack, the ball that Smith tried to pitch was recovered by Brother Rice at the Muskegon 12-yard-line.
Shon Powell made Muskegon pay, turning the fumble into a 12-yard touchdown run and giving Brother Rice their first score since the second quarter.
The Jalen Smith show continues on the ground as the Muskegon quarterback has more than 140 rushing yards and continues to make plays wit his feet. The problem had been finishing off drives in Brother Rice territory. Not this time. Muskegon has tied Brother Rice late in the third quarter with a one-yard run by backup quarterback Deshun Thrower.
Something to watch: Smith appeared to twist his ankle down near the goal line on first-and-goal, which is why Thrower came into the came.
Muskegon opened the half with a short kickoff that bounced around and was not pounced on by anybody on the Brother Rice return team. The ball was recovered by Muskegon at the Brother Rice 25-yard-line, giving them good field position with a chance to tie.
The Brother Rice defense responded to the challenge, shutting down Jalen Smith and the Muskegon offense. Smith and the offense went for it on fourth-and-11, but a wide open Muskegon receiver let the ball slip through his hands in the end zone.
Both defenses held the offenses in check to end the first half. Jalen Smith was driving Muskegon down the field in the final minutes, but was stymied by the Brother Rice defense once they got into the red zone.
Both teams have looked pretty good on both sides of the ball. Brother Rice quarterback Alex Malzone has shown he has a big time arm, so we’ll see if the Warriors continue to rotate quarterbacks in the second half. Malzone and Cheyne Lacanaria have both thrown touchdown passes for Brother Rice.
Muskegon quarterback Jalen Smith wasted little time getting it going after his team went down 14-0, running for a 22-yard gain on his teams first play back on offense. Smith then came back and picked up a big first down on a fourth-and-six play in Brother Rice territory. Javontae Langston finished off the scoring drive with a three-yard touchdown run to pull Muskegon back into the game.
Muskegon has a high-powered offense and should be able to hang with Brother Rice most of the afternoon. They’ll need their defense to step up and slow down the Warriors offense, though.
Alex Malzone led the Warriors down the field with his arm and got his team into the end zone with a touchdown pass to Joshua Flye. Brother Rice has scored on both of its possessions with two different quarterbacks. Muskegon needs to get it going on offense to stay in this game.
Brother Rice got on the board first, and now they’re driving again as the first quarter came to a close. They are using two quarterbacks today and sophomore Alex Malzone is leading the current drive in Muskegon territory after senior Cheyne Lacanaria threw a touchdown pass on the first drive of the game..
Birmingham Brother Rice (11-2) is looking to claim back-to-back state championships and their eighth title overall. They’ll have their hands full this afternoon against Muskegon (12-1) at Ford Field.
Both teams will be looking to establish the run. Each team features a big time ground attack in a game that could be a bend but don’t break kind of situation for the defenses.
Muskegon will be looking to win their fourth state championship, having won their first three all in the last nine years. They’ll be relying on their big offensive line and heavy option attack to get the job done.
Follow along with me during the game to see if Brother Rice can keep the Division 2 title in Metro Detroit.
The game will air on Fox Sports Detroit at 1 p.m.
Players to watch
Brother Rice: Brian Walker (Running Back, 21 rushing touchdowns). Jon Reschke (Linebacker, Michigan State commit).
Muskegon: John King (Fullback, 20 rushing touchdowns). Jalen Smith (Quarterback).