Dowagiac's Derek Stark, who had two interceptions in the game, cuts down Berrien Springs' Nelson Westra after a short gain. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

Archived Story

Chieftains get defensive against Shamrocks

Published 11:05pm Friday, September 14, 2012

BERRIEN SPRINGS – On a night when its offense sputtered, Dowagiac was able to remain undefeated by calling on its special teams and defense.

The Chieftains, 4-0 for the first time since 2006, scored on special teams, defense and offense in the opening half on their way to a 31-0 Wolverine Conference West Division victory over host Berrien Springs Friday.

After holding Berrien Springs to a punt on its first possession and a 19-yard Todd McIntyre punt return, the Chieftains didn’t move the ball much on its opening possession and had to settle for a 36-yard Brett Scanlon field goal.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Shamrocks’ Lohi Sibande tried to field the ball at the 1-yard line, but fumbled it and Dowagiac recovered at the Berrien Springs 10.

Two plays later, D.J. Hunt had the first of his two 1-yard touchdown runs of the first half and the Chieftains led 10-0 with 6:21 still remaining in the opening quarter.

Dowagiac would tack on two more scores in the second quarter to open up a 24-0 halftime advantage.

The first score came on a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown by Derek Stark, who finished the night with two interceptions.

The final score of the opening half was a 1-yard Hunt run, which was set up by a 63-yard McIntyre punt return down to the Berrien Springs 2-yard line. It took the Chieftains four tries to score from the two, which was how things kind of went for Dowagiac offensively Friday.

“Our defense and special teams got it going and when we needed, the offense moved the ball,” Dowagiac coach Mike Stanger said. “I wasn’t 100 percent pleased with the offense by any stretch. You know we sputtered at times here and there.”

Neither team moved the ball particularly well in the second half, but Dowagiac came up with its best drive of the night to score the final touchdown of the game.

Starting at its own 27-yard line, the Chieftains used eight plays to go 73 yards. Brendon Murray capped the drive with a brilliant run up the Shamrock’s sidelines, giving a stiff-arm to a Berrien Springs defensive back before heading into the end zone.

Murray would finish with 62 yards on five carries.

Dowagiac finished the night with only 183 yards in total offense. Berrien Springs, which is 0-4 for the first time since 2007, finished with 195 yards.

Nelson Westra finished the night with 79 yards on 18 carries.

Besides Stark’s two interceptions, the Chieftains also a pair of McIntyre fumble recoveries. Hunt had seven and a half tackles, while Jeremy Zeilke had seven stops.

Hunt left the game with a shoulder stinger, but Stanger said it was not serious and was more of a precautionary move.

“Our defense I thought played outstanding,” Stanger said. “Each week we have played good on defense. I was really proud of our defense in the second half when we probably had five or six starters out and we stopped them twice. In weeks past we would give up a touchdown at the end of the game.”

Dowagiac returns to the road against Friday night when it takes on Coloma in another West Division contest.


Dowagiac  10 14 7 0 – 31

Berrien 0 0 0 0 – 0

D – Brett Scanlon 36 field goal

D – D.J. Hunt 1 run (Scanlon kick)

D – Derek Stark 25 interception return (Scanlon kick)

D – Hunt 1 run (Scanlon kick)

D – Brendon Murray 37 run (Scanlon kick)

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