Cassopolis overcomes Hartford in Division 7

Published 8:16 pm Monday, November 3, 2003

By By SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
HARTFORD -- When the Cassopolis Rangers have needed a big play this season they quite often have turned to Kirk Baucom.
Friday night the Rangers turned to Baucom once again and he delivered as his 25-yard field goal in overtime lifted Cassopolis to a 22-19 first round playoff victory.
The Rangers (6-4) were one of 14 teams to qualify for the post season with a 5-4 record. Not many gave Cassopolis much of a chance of advancing in the playoffs.
But on Friday night the Rangers proved that they belonged by knocking off the Southwestern Athletic Conference champion. Cassopolis had lost three of its last four games entering the Division 7 playoff contest, while Hartford had won seven straight.
The Rangers drew first blood thanks to an interception by Eric Brown on Hartford's first possession.
Brown returned the ball 40 yards to the Indians' 10-yard line.
A few plays later E.J. Harris blasted into the end zone from the three to give the Rangers a 6-0 lead after Baucom's extra point attempt was wide right.
Hartford quickly responded, set up by a nice kickoff return.
The Indians capped the drive with a six-yard pass from Jamin Olds to Matt Nelson. Olds' extra point kick gave the Indians a 7-6 lead.
Neither team was able to find the end zone in the second quarter as the defenses of both teams took control of the contest.
The Rangers used another Hartford turnover to take a 13-7 lead early in the third quarter.
On the Indians' second play of the period, Olds fumbled at his own 27 and Baucom recovered.
Six plays later Simon Ballard scored on a five-yard run and Baucom connected on the extra point kick.
Once again the Indians responsed.
Hartford tied the game at 13 when Nicholas Lemmerhart scored on a one-yard run. Cassopolis blocked the extra point attempt to leave the contest knotted at 13-13.
The Rangers took the lead once again in the fourth quarter when Ashton Danzy scored on a 17-yard run. Baucom missed the extra point, however, leaving the door open for the Indians.
Hartford tied the score at 19-19 on a four-yard Lemmerhart run. The Indians tried a two-point conversion pass which failed.
In the extra session, the Ranger defense, just as it had all night, came up big.
Cassopolis won the coin toss and elected to play defense. On the first play, Olds fumbled again. Ballard recovered giving the Rangers the ball and a chance to top Hartford for the second straight time in the post season.
The Rangers ran the ball twice and then turned the game's outcome over to Baucom, who had never attempted a field goal.
The snap was good, the hold was there and Baucom's kick easily cleared the cross bar sending the Ranger players, coaches and fans into a frenzy.
The two teams played to a nearly statistical draw.
Cassopolis finished with 195 yards rushing to Hartford's 197. The Rangers threw for 50 yards compared to 71 by Hartford.
Olds had come into the game having thrown for more than 1,300 yards. He was picked off twice by the Rangers and he fumbled twice as Hartford committed five turnovers.
Danzy rushed for 110 yards on 19 carries. Lemmerhart gained 114 yards on 22 totes.
Baucom led the Rangers with 18 tackles, while Brown finished with nine tackles.
The Rangers will now travel to Gobles this weekend to take on the Tigers, a team they beat in week No. 2, 20-8.