BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — East Grand Rapids is a district champion for the first time in four years.
John Shelton ran for 166 yards and three touchdowns as the Pioneers handed Byron Center their first loss of the season in a dominating 41-14 performance.
After a highly competitive first half, EGR exploded in the second half to develop a double-digit lead that would continue to extend.
Byron Center started off strong by forcing a three-and-out on EGR’s first possession and then taking the ball down the field to score. VanderMarkt had two runs of at least 20 yards in the six-play, 64-yard drive finished with a touchdown by junior running back Mason Breit to take a 7-0 lead.
East Grand Rapids responded on its next drive by marching down the field and scoring on a quarterback sneak by Stuursma. Byron Center blocked the extra point to hold a 7-6 lead through the first quarter.
The second quarter was a defensive slugfest as the teams traded field position and punts. With just one minute to go in the half, EGR created the first opportunity to score with a punt return well inside the 50-yard line.
The Pioneers pounded the ball down the field with runs and finished off the drive that way with a 1-yard run by Shelton to take their first lead at 13-6 just before halftime. They wouldn’t lose the lead again.
Coming out of halftime, EGR recovered a fumble on Byron Center’s first possession and scored less than a minute later on a 5-yard run by junior Nathan Milanowski. Shelton also converted a two-point attempt as EGR took a 21-6 lead.
Shelton dominated the third quarter for East Grand Rapids by scoring two more of his three touchdowns on 4- and 16-yard runs.
The Bulldogs’ lone touchdown of the second half came from their special teams unit. Junior Austin Ottow fielded a kick at the 19-yard line and took it to the house for the touchdown.