By John Johnson
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties
NOTE: This week we begin a series of MHSAA Moments from Football Playoff Finals of years past. Over the coming weeks, we’ll offer video highlights including some of the longest plays and game-deciding moments from 1988 to the present.
In high school football, there are only two plays where you can score a 100-yard touchdown – both by the defense bringing the ball out of the end zone on a turnover.
For Battle Creek Pennfield in the 1991 Class CC Football Playoff Final at the Pontiac Silverdome, such a big defensive play got the Panthers out of the hole in a 14-8 victory over Negaunee.
A bad snap on a Pennfield punt resulted in a safety for a 2-0 Miners lead in the first quarter, and they had driven into the red zone after the ensuing free kick. But on a fourth-down play, the Cereal City contingent came up big.
Negaunee quarterback Ron Logan rolled left and threw to the end zone, where Pennfield linebacker Jason Livengood stepped in front of the intended receiver for the interception. Two yards deep in the end zone, Livengood found an alley and was off to the races for a 100-yard return. (High school statistics rules do not count end zone yardage.)
“I couldn’t believe it,” Livengood told the Battle Creek Enquirer after the game. “All I had to do was fake one guy and then it was open the rest of the way.”
The big play steadied the Panthers after their shaky start.
“It showed us we could do something,” running back Jim Martens told the Enquirer. “We needed a stop and we got more than that. We got six points.”
Still, the Panthers had to come up with a big drive in the third quarter – 67 yards in 17 plays taking 9:58 off the clock, with three fourth-down conversions – to take the lead to stay on Martens’ five-yard scoring run.
Negaunee mounted a drive from its own 37 to the Pennfield 18 during the final two minutes of the game. But after they completed a pass to the 11, the clock ran out on the Miners.