The battles of East vs. West and private vs. public schools opened up with the Division 2 Finals that pitted Muskegon against Brother Rice. Both teams have storied histories and more talent than most coaches see in a lifetime. In one of the craziest 4th quarters in State Finals history, junior QB Alex Malzone stepped up and made enough big plays to bring home the State Championship for Brother Rice.
The game opened with Muskegon driving deep into Brother Rice territory, and it seemed like it was easy for them to move the ball. Suddenly, the Rice defense stepped up and Muskegon turned it over on downs. Senior QB Cheyne Lacanaria quickly drove Rice down the field and ended up connecting with his brother Corey Lacanaria for a TD to put them up 7-0.
After stopping Muskegon on a 4th down attempt, Rice got the ball back. This time, junior QB Alex Marzone took over play-calling duties and was certainly up to the task. He used his arm and legs to put together a great drive that ended with Joshua Flye catching a 9-yard pass from Malzone to put the Warriors up 14-0.
In the 2nd quarter, Muskegon finally put things together and senior RB Javontae Langston punched it in from 3 yards out to bring the score to 14-7 at the half.
The second half opened with Brother Rice mis-handling the kickoff, but Muskegon couldn't do anything with it. Muskegon missed three wide open TD passes by inches on every try before QB Jalen Smith left the game for a few plays with an injury. Back-up junior QB Deshaun Thrower came in for two plays and punched it in on a QB keeper to tie the game 14-14 with 1:58 left in the 3rd.
The teams traded touchdowns with Shon Powell putting it in for Rice and Marcus Smith taking it in for Muskegon.
Two plays later, Malzone hit Corey Lacanaria deep for a 77-yard TD to put Brother Rice up 28-21 with 3:29 left in the game.
It looked like Brother Rice had all the momentum until Thrower hooked up with senior Keondre Craig for a 51-yard TD that tied it up again with 2:31 left.
The crowd was stunned, but Rice had one more trick up it's sleeve. Delano Madison caught the kickoff and started up the field. He stopped before anyone hit him, turned to his left and threw a pass (that was incredibly close to being an illegal forward pass) perfectly to Jason Alessi who then ran it 91 yards through a stunned Muskegon special-teams unit. The trick play gave Rice a 35-28 lead, but there was still 2:13 left on the clock.
Muskegon couldn't manufacture anything and ended up turning the ball over on downs. The Rice sidelines went crazy until Cheyne Lacanaria somehow fumbled the ball as he took a knee to run out the clock. Muskegon recovered the fumble and had 55 seconds to drive the length of the field. Thrower completed three passes, but the Brother Rice defense held steady and stopped the Big Red drive to win the game.
After the game, Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield talked about how proud he was of his team and told them "Trust me, you will look back at this game one day and be proud of playing football on Thanksgiving. We had a great season, and I'm proud of every one of you."
This was Fracassa's eight State Championship in 53 years of coaching, but the first time he's done it in back-to-back seasons.