Taylor Prevails Over McLaurin in Title Game

Future Wolverines <b>Terrance Taylor</b> (Muskegon) and <b>Chris McLaurin</b> (Orchard Lake St. Mary's) squared off in today's Division II State title game at the Pontiac Silverdome. The cliche &quot;defense wins championships&quot; rang true as Muskegon completely shut down the Eaglets in the second half on their way to a <strong>31-7 victory</strong>.

Orchard Lake St. Mary's started the game off at their own 38 yard line, but they weren't able to take advantage of the field position, going three and out. That seemed to the be the trend with each team for most of the first quarter, as they traded punts and generated little on offense.

Muskegon finally broke out with a well put together drive, sparked by a 17-yard option pitch that put the Big Red in the red zone. Jason Ruud took advantage of the opportunity, hitting 6'5 receiver Anthony Crump with a three yard pass in the back of the end zone for the score. The Big Red then attempted a two point conversion, but Ruud was stopped mere inches from the goal line courtesy of an excellent defensive stop by Chris McLaurin.

Chris McClaurin with the tackle on Ruud

Muskegon continued to be overpowering on the defensive side of the ball, preventing the Eaglets from getting anything going offensively. Orchard Lake's subsequent drive went no where and they were forced to punt yet again. Then the Eaglets finally caught a break. Ruud attempted a lateral screen pass to Ronald Johnson, but a high throw caused the sophomore receiver to mishandle the ball. Because it was not a forward pass, when the pigskin hit the ground it was still live. The fumble was recovered by the Eaglets a mere 7 yards from pay-dirt.

Despite the poor field position they were dealt in the sudden change situation, the Big Red defense didn't falter. Three straight Eaglet rushes gained minimal yardage. On their fourth attempt at the end zone, Orchard Lake QB Anthony Alexander threw a pass to McLaurin (who plays tight end on offense), but the ball fell incomplete. Fortunately for the Eaglets, a pass interference gave them another shot. This time Alexander capitalized with a four yard touchdown pass to Zach Stogdill. The extra point put St. Mary's up 7-6 going into the half.

Coming out of the locker room, the Muskegon offense needed to improve. In the first half of play the Big Red O moved the ball only 79 yards gave up the big turnover that turned into Eaglet points. The second half, however, was a different story entirely. It only took Muskegon two plays to score. Kevin Fulgum took option pitch 20 yards, then Ruud took an inside run 45 yards to the end zone. The two point conversion put them his team up 14-7.

Despite notching only one first half stop (in which he exploded off of the line of scrimmage and fired into the back field to make the tackle for loss), Terrance Taylor was a dominant force. The Eaglets were not able to block him with one player and his immovable presence in the middle drastically limited their rushing game. That problem would only become more pronounced in the second half. St. Mary's could not answer on their subsequent drive and was forced to punt back to Muskegon.

The pass to Orchard Lake St Mary's Dionte' Allen is broken up

The Big Red then went on a 11 play, 56 yard drive that ended with a option pitch to Brett Chandler for a 2-yard touchdown. The extra point put Muskegon up 21-7 mid way through the third. Now in a groove, Taylor's team just continued to roll from there.

After a St. Mary's fumble at their own 33, Muskegon recovered and went back to work on offense. Ruud dropped back and hit sophomore sensation Ronald Johnson (as we said a few weeks ago, remember that name in the future) for 31 yard touchdown strike to put the game out of reach. The subsequent extra point and a late field made the score 31-7 with a little over 8 minutes remaining, and that's how it would end.

On the game McLaurin finished with 4 solo tackles and 2 assists on defense. His teammate, blue chip sophomore CB/WR Dionte' Allen finishes with two solos. As was stated before, Taylor had only two tackles, but he was a huge part of holding the Eaglets to only 56 yards of offense (43 of which came on the ground), and 6 first downs. Ronald Johnson had one reception for 31 yards and a TD. For the full boxscore, click here.

The next time Michigan fans see Chris McLaurin and Terrence Taylor, they'll be dawning winged helmets at the Big House.

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