The comeback of the historic Chelsea State Championship is one of the greatest sporting stories of 2021

Chelsea's comeback win over Hudsonville Unity Christian was one of Michigan’s most memorable sporting moments in 2021.

USA About: Chelsea Publish: 12/20/2021 Edit: 12/20/2021 Author: Gardener


2021With a 28-point minus against the best offensive team in Michigan high school football history, it was difficult for Chelsea to see a way back. Chelsea's notable 55-52 comeback win over Hudsonville Unity Christian for the Division 4 state championship will no doubt go down as one of the most memorable high school state championship games in Michigan history - though it didn't start that way. Hudsonville Unity Christian not only overcame a 14-point deficit and led Chelsea 45:17 in the third quarter, the Crusaders also set the national record for points in a season during the game and were on their way to one of the best seasons ever. Ranked as the state's No. 1 team in D4 all season, Chelsea quickly found themselves with the biggest lead in over eight years, but that didn't stop the Bulldogs from believing. What came next was a flurry of touchdowns and turnovers that would help the Bulldogs cut the deficit while setting their own records. "These guys could have stopped," said Chelsea coach Josh Lucas after the game. “Dogs never give up, they always fight and we are still hungry. When a dog is hungry, they keep fighting and these guys keep fighting. ”Chelsea actually kept fighting and was rewarded with his first state title since 1972. The historic comeback began with a 3-yard touchdown run by Chelsea that led Trent Hill back to reduce the deficit to 45-24. It became a two-goal game after Chelsea QB Lucas Dunn hit receiver Lucas Hanifan for an 11-yard touchdown pass to get the score 45:31 before the fourth quarter. A quick touchdown run by Unity Christian's Cameron Chandler pushed his lead back to 52:31, which seemed to put the game on hold. But Chelsea had even more of a struggle when Dunn and Hanifan met again for a 21-yard score that made it 52-38, 8:27 after regulation. After a Unity Christian punt, Dunn found Hanifan again for a 29-yard TD, cutting Unity Christian's lead to 52-45. From then on, nothing would go right for Unity Christian when the Crusaders fumbled for the next possession, which - you guessed it - allowed Dunn and Hanifan to combine for the game-dominating TD, this time playing 4:43 from 16 meters away. In less than six minutes, Unity Christian saw his 21-point lead evaporate in the fourth quarter and the bad luck didn't stop there. The Crusaders fiddled with their next two possessions, giving Chelsea an opportunity to steal the win the Bulldogs weren't going to waste. After Unity's third straight and fourth quarter fumble, Chelsea drove down the field to set up a 33-yard field goal attempt by Hunter Shaw, who kicked the ball through the posts when time ran out for an incredible comeback to crown. Chelsea's win set the Bulldogs multiple records during the game which showed how remarkable the comeback win was. Dunn set the record for the state championship for touchdowns at six, while Hanifan set the record for receiving TDs at five, setting the record for TDs in a state final. He also set the record for the most points he scored in a state final with 30 points. To win the title with his iconic field goal kick, Shaw also set the state record for extra points with seven. Chelsea also set the school record in one season with 546 points and wins in one season with 14. Despite the defeat, Unity Christian was still the all-time leader in one season and was the first team to score more than 800 points in one season that ended with 803. In addition to the individual and team records, the game was the highest-grossing state final in MHSAA history with 107 points and it was only 10 yards away from the most combined yards (1,024) in a state final.


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