Cassopolis’ Tyrone Christopher (25) is brought down by a pair of Buchanan defenders. (Leader photo/JOSEPH WEISER)

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Buchanan routs Cass in Lakeland showdown

Published 11:45pm Friday, September 21, 2012

BUCHANAN — Friday’s high school football game between Cassopolis and Buchanan was a defensive struggle until 3:25 remained in the second quarter.

Then came the first of many Ranger mistakes that the Bucks turned into points in a 39-8 Buchanan win.

Daniel Backus’ blocked punt and recovery gave Buchanan the ball at its own 45-yard line. A play later, Doug Freeman scored on a 55-yard run to give the Bucks a 6-0 lead with 3:14 left before halftime. The extra-point was missed.

The remainder of the game, Cassopolis had two more critical breakdowns on special teams and turned the ball over four times. Buchanan added 27 points off those miscues.

Buchanan coach Mike Kuntz praised Backus, who’s a freshman, after the game.

“That definitely changed the momentum of the game and was the play of the game,” said Kuntz, whose team improved to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the Lakeland Conference. “We spend a lot of time on special teams. We start on Monday (in practice) emphasizing special teams. If you don’t work on special teams it will kill you.”

Cassopolis coach Dan Purlee agreed with Kuntz about the importance of the blocked punt.

“That was huge,” said Purlee. “Those are the things that you can’t have happen. We let a guy slip through and we didn’t pick him up. It was a big play for them.”

Cassopolis had a bad snap on a punt and three turnovers on its first four possessions of the second half. An opportunistic Bucks’ squad got touchdown runs of 28 and five yards from Freeman, a 10-yard scoring run from Jeff Mucha and a 27-yard touchdown run from Freeman following those mistakes.

“In that second half we turned the ball over way too much,” Purlee said. “We put (Buchanan) in good field position and you can’t do that against a team like that. We needed to execute on all cylinders tonight and we didn’t.

“We played them tough in the first half. We made too many mistakes in the second half and (Buchanan) capitalized on them.”

Freeman rushed for 168 yards on 17 carries. The 5-foot-11 junior has now rushed for 885 yards on the season with 19 touchdowns. The Bucks rushed for 237 yards as a team.

Kuntz was only slightly impressed with Freeman’s play against the Rangers.

“He was OK,” Kuntz said. “He’s been a lot better.”

Buchanan quarterback Lyman Thomas completed 7-of-15 passes for 153 yards.

Buchanan’s defense held Cassopolis, which fell to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the Lakeland, to 180 total yards. Rangers running back Jaylin Lawson rushed for 81 yards on 16 carries with a two-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

“They just got some nice, big, physical kids,” Purlee said about Buchanan’s defense. “We’re not the biggest team in the world. We couldn’t move them and they held their gaps and closed down. It was tough for us to find running lanes. They also got good team speed and we didn’t get outside really well tonight. They’re a quality opponent.”

Buchanan has allowed only 74 points this season.

“Very pleased,” Kuntz said about his team’s defensive play against the Rangers. “They scored on our second team in the fourth quarter. We wanted a shutout tonight. They’re playing very, very well. We’re very sound against the run and we have great defensive backs.”


Cassopolis 0 0 0 8 – 8

Buchanan 0 6 27 6 – 39

B – Doug Freeman 55 run (kick failed)

B – Freeman 28 run (pass failed)

B – Freeman 5 run (pass failed)

B – Jeff Mucha 10 run (Alex Martinez kick)

B – Freeman 27 run (Justin Henderson run)

C – Jaylin Lawson 2 run (Vashaun Morgan run)

B – Spencer Thompson 27 run (kick failed)


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