Dowagiac's Todd McIntyre picks up yards against Grand Rapids South Christian Friday night. The Sailors defeated the Chieftains 42-23 for the Division 4 District championship. (Leader photo/CAROL NOVAK)

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South Christian ends Dowagiac’s undefeated run

Published 11:19pm Friday, November 2, 2012

For the second straight week, Grand Rapids South Christian dismantled an undefeated Wolverine Conference champion.

Last week the Sailors blanked East Division champion Paw Paw 48-0.

Friday night, South Christian handed West Division champion Dowagiac a 42-23 setback in the Division 4 District championship game.

After both teams put up a pair of first quarter touchdowns, it was all South Christian. The Sailors (8-3) outscored the Chieftains (10-1) 28-2 en rolling up a 42-16 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Dowagiac scored late, but could not recover the onside kick and South Christian was on its way to the regional finals where it will face Three Rivers next Friday night.

Things looked good for the Chieftains early on as Dowagiac scored on its opening possession. The Chieftains went 80 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 7-yard Derek Stark run.

The Sailors answered with their own 80 yard drive, scoring on a 14-yard Chad Sterk run. On the ensuing extra point attempt, the snap got away from the holder and kicker Kyle Haan picked it up, avoided being tackled and threw a 2-yard conversion pass to Brandon Heyboer to give South Christian an 8-7 lead.

Following a Dowagiac fumble that was recovered at the Chieftains’ 25-yard line, the Sailors used just two plays to go up 14-7. Sophomore standout quarterback Jon Wassink hooked up with Jason Miller on a 20-yard pass.

Dontel Highsmith took the kickoff 99 yards to knot the score at 14-14 late in the opening quarter. It appeared South Christian had Highsmith bottled up at the 20-yard line, but he squirted out the backside of the pile and wasn’t challenged the remaining 80 yards to the end zone.

The Sailors took the lead for good on their next possession. Wassink scored on a 2-yard run to make it 21-14.

Dowagiac would cut the lead to 21-16 when Wassink was called for intentional grounding in the end zone which resulted in a safety.

However, in what perhaps was the pivotal point of the game, the Chieftains were unable to do anything with the ball off the free kick. Despite starting South Christian’s 47-yard line, Dowagiac did nothing with the opportunity and turned the ball over on downs as the Sailor’s 38-yardline when Brett Scanlon was stuffed on a quarterback sneak.

“That was big because we had the ball at the 40-yard line and we tried a little misdirection because they were flowing and we didn’t get yardage,” Dowagiac coach Mike Stanger said. “We had the incompletion and we didn’t capitalize. That was a big sequence. We needed points there.”

While the Chieftains were able to capitalize on the opportunity, the Sailors took the ball and drove a dagger through the heart of the Dowagiac defense.

South Christian took the ball and used four plays to increase its advantage to 28-16 with 4:07 to play in the first half. Wassink hit Sterk with a 38-yard pass down to the Chieftains’ 1-yard line and Sterk then completed the drive with the 1-yard run.

The Sailors weren’t done scoring just yet.

After Dowagiac went three-and-out, South Christian took the ball from its own 34-yard line and went 66 yards in eight plays to make it 35-16.

Wassink, who finished with 12 carries for 43 yards, covered the final four yards himself.

The Sailors getting on the board first in the second half as it increased its advantage to 26 points.

Wassink, who was 21-of-26 for 285 yards, connected with Austin Diekevers for a 25-yard touchdown with 2:53 to play in the third quarter.

Dowagiac capped the scoring in the final quarter as the Chieftains went 85 yards in just three plays.

Todd McIntyre began the drive with a 37-yard run up the middle. Scanlon then connected with McIntyre for another 18 yards and then hit Brendon Murray all alone in the middle of the field for a 30-yard touchdown.

South Christian finished the night with 418 yards of total offense, including 133 on the ground against the Dowagiac team that was allowing its opponents 162 yards per game and only 6.2 points per game.

The Sailors held the Chieftains to 268 yards of total offense. Dowagiac rushed for 162, led by Murray’s 62 yards on six carries. The Chieftains threw for 108 yards as Cal Cox and Scanlon combined to go 9-of-19 with an interception.


South Christian 14 21 7 0 – 42

Dowagiac 14 2 0 7 – 23

D – Derek Stark 7 run (Brett Scanlon kick)

SC – Chad Sterk 14 run (Kyle Haan to Brandon Heyboer pass)

SC – Jason Miller 20 pass from Jon Wassink (kick fails)

D – Dontel Highsmith 99 kickoff return (Scanlon kick)

SC – Wassink 2 run (Haan kick)

D – Safety (Intentional grounding in the end zone)

SC – Sterk 1 run (Haan kick)

SC – Wassink 4 run (Haan kick)

SC – Austin Diekevers 25 pass from Wassink (Haan kick)

D – Brendon Murray 30 pass from Scanlon (Scanlon kick)

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