Rangers fall in final secondsPublished 12:14am Saturday, August 25, 2012
CASSOPOLIS – Everything set up for Dan Purlee to have a victorious debut Friday as the varsity football coach at Cassopolis High School.
Instead, a forgettable finish helped Lawton hang on for a 21-19 win.
The Rangers never got off a kick on a potential game-winning 22-yard field goal with :06.1 left. An offsides call on Lawton on a 3rd-and-10 at the Blue Devils’ 10-yard cut five yards off the field goal attempt.
“The snap was a little low,” said Purlee about the game’s last play. “We just couldn’t get it down. We tried to make something happen, but the outcome didn’t work our way.”
Vashaun Morgan was stopped for no gain on a running play after the bad snap.
The kicking game for the Rangers needs to improve. Cassopolis had an extra-point go wide right in the second quarter after taking a 13-7 lead with 7:32 left in the second quarter.
“The kicking game is a little concern,” Purlee said. “It’s something that we need to clean up definitely.”
The bad finish spoiled a great drive to end the game for the Rangers. After getting an incomplete pass from Lawton on a 4th-and-6 at the Rangers’ 17-yard line, with two time-outs, Cassopolis got the ball with 4:15 left in the game. The Rangers marched down the field with 12 plays producing 73 yards and five first downs.
“Not bad,” Purlee said about his team’s execution on the final drive. “I think we need to do a little bit better job up front creating holes. But we showed some character. Our guys kept plugging. We were gassed. We don’t play a lot of guys. We’ve got a lot of guys going both ways.”
Evan Brown rushed for 58 yards on six carries during the drive. Brown had to sit out a play after running for 14 yards and picking up a first down at Lawton’s five-yard line with :19.6 left. Brown finished the game with 165 yards rushing on 18 carries with touchdown runs of 50, 12 and 46 yards.
“He took a shot in the ribs,” Purlee said about Brown’s injury. “I think he’ll be fine. He’s a gamer. He can make magical things happen. He does a great job.”
Cassopolis appeared to have the momentum in the second quarter after scoring 13 unanswered points to take a 13-7 lead. Brown’s 12-yard touchdown run with 7:32 left in the second quarter gave the Rangers that lead.
But that lead didn’t last for long. It took only two plays for Lawton to take back the lead at 14-13. Kody Brigham scored on an 11-yard run to give the Blue Devils the lead. Before that play, Brandon St. Clair broke several tackles and rushed for 54 yards. St. Clair rushed for 189 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown. The Blue Devils totaled 333 yards on the ground.
Purlee was asked about this team’s missed tackles throughout the game.
“It’s a big concern of ours,” the Rangers coach said. “It’s something we’re going to have to go back to the drawing board on and work more on the fundamentals and tackling. Our run defense was definitely disappointing.”
Brown’s 46-yard touchdown run pulled Cassopolis within 21-19 with 10:05 left in the game. The Rangers went for two with Brown just short of the goal line on a running play.
The Rangers totaled a -8 yards in the third quarter before Brown’s touchdown run.
“We got to get in better shape,” Purlee said. “It took us awhile to get back in the flow of the game in the second half.”
Lawton 7 7 7 0 – 21
Cassopolis 7 6 0 6 – 19
L – Brandon St. Clair 14 run (Brenden Wimes kick)
C – Evan Brown 50 run (Kevin Hatcher kick)
C – Brown 12 run (kick failed)
L – Kody Brigham 11 run (Wimes kick)
L – Justin Albrecht 13 run (Wimes kick)
C – Brown 46 run (run failed)