Grand Rapids West Catholic runs roughshod over Negaunee in state Division 6 football finals, 59-14

DETROIT — Negaunee stayed with Grand Rapids West Catholic throughout the first half, but in the end the Falcons had too much firepower for the Upper Peninsula’s lone representative at the MHSAA 11-player football finals Friday afternoon and early evening.

GRWC scored a 59-14 victory in the Division 6 state championship game played at Ford Field in Detroit, the home of the Detroit Lions, in a game televised by Bally Sports Detroit.

The 59-point total was reported by Grand Rapids television station Fox-17 to be the highest ever by a team in an 11-player football MHSAA state final.

The Falcons, who won six Division 5 state championships between 2010-17, scored the game’s first two touchdowns to take a 14-0 lead. Fox-17 reported that it included GRWC quarterback Bernie Varnesdeel completing a 72-yard TD pass to Carter Perry on the game’s first play from scrimmage.

Negaunee got the ball back late in the first half on a turnover in West Catholic territory and converted it into a touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Ty Jacobson to Philip Nelson on the final play before halftime, making it 14-7 at the break after Nelson also kicked the extra point.

An even bigger highlight came on the game’s next play — Nelson took the second-half kickoff 98 yards “back to the house” for a touchdown, that, with another one of his extra-point kicks, tied the score 14-14.

Nelson, the All-Upper Peninsula unanimous Dream Team kick returner, finished with three kickoffs returned for TDs to match his three punts returned for TDs in his senior season.

But that would be the last of any real highlights for the Miners this day — the Falcons answered with 31 points in the third quarter to make it 45-14 entering the final quarter.

The Falcons got two more TDs in the fourth for the final margin.

Fox-17 said that Varnesdeel completed 5 of 10 passes for 225 yards and three TDs, while fellow Falcons’ senior running back Tim Koska ran for 241 yards on 19 carries and four TDs, most of his production coming in the second half.

A full game story and photos will be available in Monday’s Sports section of The Mining Journal.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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