Skyler Geurink’s big night helps Zeeland West football win Muskegon thriller

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MUSKEGON — Skyler Geurink and his Zeeland West teammates found themselves in a hurricane of momentum changes as they traveled to Hackley Stadium on Friday night in an OK Green Conference showdown against the Muskegon Big Reds.

After leading by no less than 20 points in the first half, the Dux found themselves trailing 36-32 with 2:37 left on the clock and had to go 64 yards against a hard-hitting defense that was boosted by its Homecoming crowd. .

It was then that Geurink found a break from the storm in the form of an open traffic lane and ran 26 yards into the end zone for the winning score as Zeeland West secured a thrilling victory over the road 38-36 against the Big Reds to improve to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the OK Green Conference.

AFTER: Footage of Friday night’s thriller from Hackley Stadium

“We knew they were going to keep hitting, so we kept fighting back,” Geurink said after the game. “They never give up, but we never give up either, and this time we actually won one. It’s amazing to win here. It’s the best stadium in the world and we have a lot of respect for those guys. They also played really well.”

Geurink had 157 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries to beat the Dux, while Rolando Robelin added 95 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries and Parker Holman had 70 yards and a touchdown on nine attempts.

“He was amazing tonight,” said Zeeland West head coach John Shillito of Geurink. “He’s a dynamic guy. When Skyler starts, he just keeps getting better. You can give him the ball 35 times when he feels good and he will run hard 35 times. He was big for us tonight. Rolando also made some big runs for us tonight, and I thought our offensive line just kept plugging in. We didn’t advance Parker Holman as much, but he made a few runs that got us some serious yards and kept drives alive.

“I’m just proud of them. We talked about how it would be an effort game because those guys (Muskegon) over there are playing harder than anyone I’ve ever coached against when their backs are against the wall. I told our kids to keep playing until the final whistle and I’m proud they did.

The road win over the Big Reds ended a 5 game losing streak in the series for Zeeland West dating back to 2005. The Dux offense set the tone in the marquee win by rushing for 333 yards on 50 races.

“We’re just faster at all ends this year,” Geurink said of what makes this year’s team different. “Our linemen did a good job up front and our backfield made plays when we needed them. I think this win just proves that we can hang out with anyone, and we just have to keep working hard and come in and train and improve by 1% every day.

The Dux saw their 12-point halftime lead evaporate in the second half, as the Big Reds scored with 4:23 remaining to cut the deficit to 32-29 and salvaged the onside kick that ensued before Jakob Price dove into the end zone with 2:37 remaining in the game for what looked to be the winning score at 36-32.

The Dux responded one last time, however, converting a fourth-and-a-nine from their own 37-yard line to keep the drive alive before Geurink broke free for the game-winning touchdown a few plays later.

“They completely blocked us in the second half,” Shillito of the Big Reds said. “They chased us and we didn’t leave the blocks very well. I thought their attack wore us down a bit in the second half, but again the one thing we kept talking about was if we have to win the game, let’s win it attacking. Our defense has been great all year and we played against a very, very good football team and found a way to win. It was a huge effort from our kids and we couldn’t be more proud of them.

Junior quarterback M’Khi Guy finished with 202 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and was 5 of 14 passes for 51 yards and a touchdown to lead the Big Reds on offense, while Jakob Price added 85 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries and Destin Piggee rushed four times for 22 yards and caught three passes for 21 yards.

Amar Glover added a 25-yard reception, while Da’Carrion Taylor had a 5-yard touchdown reception late in the first half.

“He’s a great athlete,” Muskegon head coach Shane Fairfield said of Guy. “He’s been on offense since he was in fifth or sixth grade, so he’s very comfortable with that. He’s also had great role models over the years with guys like Cam Martinez and the family. Guy is deeply rooted with successful athletes and M’Khi continues to build on that momentum, his leadership and work ethic make him a great player and he has done a great job leading our offense so far this season.

“I think it helps to have guys like Destin and Jakob in the team, because the defense has to worry about No. 6 and No. 20 and then all of a sudden No. 3 is at your sides. This week was the first time that (Jakob) was really 100% all season. He’s really starting to play like him again and he’s running with confidence. He broke some big ones tonight and you can tell he helps us add a layer to our offense and makes us a lot more dynamic in the running game.

Fairfield saw plenty of positives in Friday night’s result despite the loss, but admits stronger starts and a more disciplined defense will be key moving forward.

“They definitely showed a lot of heart,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that we lost, but I feel better about this team’s potential after that game than I did after beating Zeeland East last week in a win. I can really feel them coming together and We’re starting a lot of new faces on defense and the kids are stepping in and making plays when their number is called and they’re performing at a high level at every level.

“We’ve come from behind in our three wins, so it’s kind of in the DNA of this team that we’re going to find a way to keep fighting. I told the team after the game to tonight that we are making it much harder for ourselves than it should be. It really comes from the habits and the structure of the practice and the seriousness that we take each day.

The Zeeland West offense went 4 for 10 on third conversions, but were 6 for 6 on subsequent fourth conversion attempts.

“We had them in some third and fourth and long and just didn’t leave the field,” Fairfield said. “It’s not about our children. They played with every ounce of effort they had and they still play hard, but we have to make better decisions and as coaches we have to make that decision process easier for them when they’re trying to make plays.

“We seemed to fight a lot harder in the second half defensively. I’m very happy with the direction our attack is taking, but defensively we just need to finish better. That’s sort of our MO so far this season and as coordinator and head coach, it’s up to me. I have to find a way to give our kids a better chance to do better on this side of the ball.

Muskegon (3-2, 2-1 OK Green) will look to bounce back at Grand Rapids Union (3-2, 1-2 OK Green) next week, while Zeeland West (5-0, 3-0 OK Green) host Mona Shores (4-1, 3-0 OK Green) in another crucial league game.

“We learned tonight that we can come back no matter what the scoreboard says,” Fairfield added. “We were down three touchdowns against a very talented football team and we found a way to give ourselves a chance to win in the end. That kind of combat and mental toughness is all you can ask of your football team as a coach.

“It’s something we can build on moving forward. I adore our children, and I have no doubt in my mind that they will pull themselves together and that we will get through this.

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