The Rangers’ Jaylin Lawson heads toward the end zone during Friday night’s contest. (Cassopolis Vigilant photo/RON HARNER)

Archived Story

Cassopolis wins in overtime

Published 12:04am Thursday, October 13, 2011

On Friday night, in a game that was desperately needed to have any hope of keeping their goal making the MHSAA playoffs alive, the Cassopolis Rangers rallied from a 14-0 halftime deficit at home to force an overtime and score an improbable win over  the Buchanan Bucks 21-20.

The game was definitely a tale of two halves.

The first half belonged to tailback Doug Freeman and the Bucks who imposed their will upon what looked like a hapless Ranger defense.

On his first touchdown, a six yard run, Freeman was hit first at the 4-yard line, He then bounced off his would-be tackler and finished the play by dragging three defenders across the goal line. His next touchdown didn’t require as much heavy lifting. On a third and four play from the Rangers’ 26-yard line, Freeman burst through the middle of the line and showcased his speed by blazing nearly untouched to endzone. The score gave Buchanan a commanding 14-0 lead heading into halftime.

Unfortunately for the Bucks, there was still a second half to be played.

After the half, the Rangers came out seemingly firing on all cylinders. The defense forced a couple of quick three and outs and was suddenly making plays and stops that they couldn’t make in the first half. The Ranger offense would begin to follow suit shortly thereafter.

In the blink of an eye, Ranger tailback Jaylin Lawson took a second and eight handoff and bolted 42 yards for a touchdown. From that point on it was visibly clear that all of the game’s momentum had shifted from the visitors sideline to the home teams.

Buchanan tried valiantly to get the momentum back on its side when the defense stopped the Rangers on a fourth and goal from its own 2-yard line. The Bucks even managed to get a little more back when Freeman ripped off a 52 yard run to get the ball inside Ranger territory. But the rug was yanked out from beneath them when the Cass defense stuffed Freeman on fourth and goal from the Ranger 1-yard line.

When asked about the play of his defense, Cassopolis coach Bernard Thomas praised their effort as well as their constitution.

“Our defense has been pushed around a lot this year, but tonight they stood up. I had 11 brawlers out there tonight,” he said.

Just a little bit after the huge stop on defense that kept the Bucks from going up 21-7, the Rangers got closer to knotting up the score when their standout tailback Evan Brown shook loose for a 60-yard run which set them up for a first and goal from the Buchanan 5-yard line. Three plays later Lawson pounded in his second touchdown from the 1-yard line and Ranger kicker Blaise Suseland tied things up with the extra point.

After a few Buchanan plays the clock expired and the outcome of the game was no closer to being decided than when it started.

Four quarters just wasn’t enough.

Overtime rules in high school are the same as in the college game. The only difference is in high school each team starts at the 10-yard line instead of the 25.

Buchanan won the coin toss and elected to play defense first.

On Cass’ second play in overtime, Brown took an outside toss eight yards into the end zone and Suseland added the extra point that would play a pivotal part in the game’s outcome.

Buchanan would go on to score on its third play in overtime when quarterback Lyman Thomas connected with tight end Nick Troxel from six yards out to bring the Bucks within one. But the Bucks’ attempt to extend the game and their chances to win were halted when their extra-point kick sailed beneath the crossbar.

Once all the smoke had settled the Rangers finished with a 343-272 yard total offense advantage. 277 of those yards came on the ground with Brown adding 172 of them on 21 carries. Freeman led all rushers with 197 yards on 25 carries.

The win keeps Cass’ hopes for the playoffs alive.

“The motto around here for the last couple weeks has been ‘win four in a row or we don’t go’ and we have two down and two to go. This team and these kids never quit. We all believe we can do this,” Thomas said.

The Rangers will continue their quest for the playoffs next week as they square off with Coloma for their final home game of the year. The game will start at 7 p.m.

Cassopolis 0 0 7 7 7 – 21

Buchanan 7 7 0 0 6 – 20

B – Doug Freeman 8yd run (Brent Brown kick)

B – Freeman 26 yd run (Brown kick)

C – Jaylin Lawson 42yd run (Blaise Suseland kick)

C – Lawson 1yd run (Suseland kick)

C – Evan Brown 8yd run (Suseland kick)

B – Lyman Thomas 6yd pass to Nick Troxel (kick failed)

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