Cass Rangers nipped by Berrien SpringsPublished 10:40am Thursday, October 22, 2009
By DON EDEN
A questionable double pass play and a bobbled two-point conversion at the goal line cost host Cassopolis (6-2, 3-2) a share of the Lakeland Conference as Berrien Springs (6-2, 4-1) took advantage for a 27-26 thrilling victory on Oct. 16.
Senior Shamrock Nolan O’Brien caught his own pass after a Ranger knocked it in the air early in the fourth quarter as the teams were tied at 14 apiece and started to run, but decided to throw again when nearly being tackled.
Classmate Sean Mitchell captured the present past all the defenders for a 60-yard touchdown which rarely or ever has been done before.
“The main question for me was linemen being down the field on the second pass for a penalty,” stated Cassopolis coach Andy Hubbard.
“We went with what was called, but Cass should be complaining,” proudly said Berrien Springs coach Bill Bergan.
The exciting final 18 minutes of the contest came down to a win or lose play with 26.2 seconds after senior DaShaun Curtis scored from the one-yard line on fourth down.
Senior quarterback Steven Eleazer faked to Curtis and seemed to find an opening sweeping around the right side, but the call was not good for the Ranger faithful.
“The ball came loose when our guys hit him by the goal line, which was probably Mitchell and O’Brien,” exclaimed an ecstatic Bergan.
“I am not big on kicking the ball for a tie – we attack at Cassopolis so used a special play for special situations that we go over every day in practice,” explained Hubbard. “It was hands down what we wanted by faking to Curtis and have Steven out wide with a pass-run deal, but it was a judgment call if he broke the plane before bobbling it.”
The first half was dominated by the Rangers as they scored with 7:35 showing on the clock in each of the first two quarters for a 14-0 halftime advantage. Junior Jackson Connor broke the scoreless tie with a 5-yard run and Eleazer found junior Tommy First for a 14-yard completion as sophomore Blaze Suseland kicked both extra points.
“We were frustrated with the run game in the first half as they handled us pretty good,” noted Bergan. “Cass had us down pat and couldn’t get much going at all so in the second half we put another blocker in the crease which helped a lot.”
Cassopolis gained 120 yards on the ground in the first half with 27 yards passing with the visitors running for 35 yards (despite 15 and 31 yard carries by senior Anthony Johnson) and O’Brien accounting for 48 yards on three completions on nine attempts.
Johnson found pay dirt on the first play of the second possession in the third quarter with a 68 yard scamper through a huge hole and evened the score with a 40 yard fake punt return by junior Ryan Scott.
The Rangers meanwhile went backwards 36 inches on nine plays in the third stanza before the dramatic finish.
“They made the adjustments at halftime and it took me too long to counter so we moved the ball better in the final quarter as they pulled their tight ends in more to block and the tackles got in the hole quicker,” observed Hubbard. “Our mistakes put them back in the game and we also sat back too much instead of attacking.”
Mistakes were mounting in penalties as Cass committed 8 infractions totaling 60 yards to 15 for Berrien Springs. First Downs went to the Rangers with 15 to 9 for the Shamrocks. Ranger senior Agust Olafsson had five punts for a 35-yard average.
Berrien Springs also won the total yardage battle with 307 yards to 244 for the Rangers with Johnson outdueling Curtis (131-92) in yards with 13 carries compared to 17 totes.
The Shamrocks need a victory next Friday at Edwardsburg for a share of the conference title with Buchanan.
“Making the playoffs are nice but we are going after that conference title next week with all we got,” beamed Bergan.
Concluding the regular season before the playoffs begin will be a trip to Coloma on Friday for Cassopolis.
“Hopefully this will put a chip on their shoulders as we move on,” concluded Hubbard.
Berrien Springs 0 0 14 13 – 27
Cassopolis 7 7 0 12 - 26
CA – Jackson Connor 5 yard run (Blaze Suseland kick)
CA – Steven Eleazer 14 yard pass to Tommy First (Suseland kick)
BS – Anthony Johnson 68 yard run ( Garrett Shembarger kick)
BS – Ryan Scott 40 yard run (Shembarger kick)
BS – Nolan O’Brien 60 yard pass to Sean Mitchell (kick no good)
CA – DaShaun Curtis 14 yard run (kick no good)
BS – O’Brien 16 yard run (Shembarger kick)
CA – Curtis 1 yard run (run failed)