Mason Bulldogs help score special touchdown

Published: Oct. 16, 2018 at 5:41 PM EDT
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At the end of Mason's game Friday at Muskegon Orchard View, Fletcher Payne, one of Muskegon's players, scored a touchdown.

Fletcher has autism, and his father, a coach on the team, asked if Fletcher might be able to play.

"I said 'not only would I be okay with it, let's give him the ball and let him score,'" said Mason coach Gary Houghton.

So, when the clock hit zero, Houghton rounded up his guys and chalked up the next play.

"Let's celebrate down in the end zone with this guy and run with him. Our kids surprised me, they were more energetic and emotional than I expected."

This isn't the first time Houghton and team member Noah Anderson have been involved in something like this.

A few years back, DeWitt's football team let Jay Granger, a former member of the Mason football team, score a touchdown.

"I always remembered that," said Houghton. "So when it was brought up on Friday, I jumped on it because I knew it was a chance to do it for someone else."

"You usually only get to be a part of that once. Fortunately, I was able to witness it a second time," said Anderson. "Someone helped us in the past, and so we got to help them give him the moment of a lifetime. It was really cool to see the smile and joy on his face."

High School football isn't just about players making it to the next level or winning a state championship. It's about developing character, something that Houghton knows his players displayed on Friday.

"It was a really cool moment for our guys, and I hope it was a great moment for Fletcher and their community too," said Houghton.