NORTH MUSKEGON — Brandon Rypstra sparked North Muskegon with a 65-yard scoop-and-score in the first quarter and TJ Byard helped provide the Norsemen some separation from Ravenna with a pair of dazzling touchdown receptions.
By the end of a hard-fought North Grove Brewers West Michigan Conference Game of the Week, North Muskegon earned a 28-7 victory over visiting Ravenna on homecoming night Friday at Fred Jacks Memorial Field.
The Norsemen, now 6-1 overall after their sixth-straight win, are in the driver’s seat for the WMC Rivers Division title with a 4-0 record. They have road games remaining at Holton and Shelby in Weeks 8 and 9, respectively.
Ravenna saw its five-game winning streak snapped. The Bulldogs are 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the WMC Rivers. They visit Oakridge next Friday in the North Grove Brewers WMC Game of the Week, then host Hart in Week 9.
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Photos by Emily Vanderstelt for CatchMark
Here are notables and more details from the game:
- North Muskegon and Ravenna are both Division 7, so there’s a good chance they could see each other again in the playoffs right back at Fred Jacks Memorial Field.
- North Muskegon lost twice to Ravenna last season — 17-6 at home in Week 7, then 7-6 in the first round of the playoffs.
- Rypstra’s scoop-and-score was the first defensive touchdown of the senior linebacker’s career. The ball popped loose from scrambling Ravenna senior quarterback Hunter Hogan as North Muskegon senior linebacker Kyle Huff applied pressure. Rypstra was on the spot and he had nothing but open field in front of him in giving his team a 7-0 lead. The play with 7:20 left in the opening quarter flipped the script, as Ravenna was driving following an early North Muskegon fumble.
Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark
- Byard finished with five receptions for 92 yards. The sophomore’s over-the-shoulder, 33-yard TD reception on a well-placed ball by sophomore QB James Young with 22 seconds in the first half was a key turning point. It gave the Norse a 14-0 halftime lead. With 5:49 left in the third quarter, Byard took a pass in the flat, turned up the sideline and won the race to the pylon on a 30-yard scoring play for a 21-0 lead.
- Ravenna got on the board early in the fourth quarter on Hogan’s heave to junior Drew Mabrito, who turned the pass play into an 80-yard TD to pull the Bulldogs within 21-7.
- North Muskegon put the game away with 3:31 left when Huff hauled in a 6-yard scoring pass from Young.
- Young finished 12-of-24 passing for 138 yards with three TDs and one interception.
- Junior Ben Meyers led North Muskegon in the running game with 77 yards on 10 carries. He appeared to score on a well-designed fake punt, but it was called back by penalty. Meyers also notched 5.5 tackles, including a sack, plus 3.5 stops for lost yardage.
- Junior AJ Larkin led North Muskegon with eight tackles, six of them solo.
- North Muskegon senior Sam Gallo recorded 7.5 tackles, including a sack.
- North Muskegon juniors Talan Thompson and Alec Newville snagged interceptions.
- Hogan finished 4-of-11 passing for 136 yards with a TD and two interceptions for Ravenna. He ran 21 times for 33 yards.
- Mabrito caught two passes for 101 yards, including the long TD reception.
- Hogan paced Ravenna defensively with 7.5 tackles, six of them solo, plus an interception.
- Ravenna junior Chase Thomas and senior Brayden Fry each finished with five tackles.
- North Muskegon senior Denny Belmonte suffered an apparent knee injury early in the game. Norse coach Larry Witham said he hopes it’s just an MCL sprain, but that Belmonte will be examined this weekend.
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