Dowagiac falls to Vicksburg 6-3

Published 4:29 pm Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dowagiac’s Cal Cox heads around the end of the Vicksburg defense Friday night. (The Daily News/Ron Harner)

If defense wins championships, Dowagiac and Vicksburg will both vie for the Wolverine Conference crown as neither offense could muster a touchdown in a 6-3 triumph for the visiting Bulldogs.

Each squad came into the contest without a defeat after the first two games of the 2011 campaign.

“The field position was vital in this game and it played big for us,” said Vicksburg coach Tom Marchese. “Dowagiac played a great game and two teams were in a dogfight throughout.”

Receiving the kickoff to start the game, the Chiefs were called for holding on the second play and a long pass went into the arms of opposing quarterback turned safety in senior Connor McCormick, who returned it into the red zone.

Defenders for Dowagiac denied the touchdown, but senior Jesse Boulnemour notched three points midway through the first stanza with a 22-yard field goal.

Junior Dontel Highsmith returned the ensuing kick to the 40, but another penalty sent the Chiefs back to the 15-yard line to start the drive.

“Every time we got something moving a penalty took us back as penalties hurt us, but we are going to grow,” said Dowagiac coach Michael Stanger. “We have 20 juniors on the team, so we are young on offense and still learning to get better.”

Dowagiac had 59 yards total offense in the first half, with half of it coming on a pass from classmate Cal Cox to Highsmith, who showed his leaping ability to snare the aerial. A 33-yard field goal by junior Brett Scanlon with 7:41 showing on the scoreboard before intermission was the beneficiary of Highsmith’s grab.

A couple long runs of 20 and 16 yards by McCormick late in the second stanza proved to be the winning drive as it led to a 31-yard field goal by Boulnemour with 37.7 left before the band took the field.

Vicksburg also didn’t reach the century mark in offense in the first half with 91 yards with McCormick gaining 57 on a dozen carries. The Chiefs lost 51 yards on five flags to negate any momentum they tried to muster.

“It seemed like we were always second and 16 or third and 12, but couldn’t be prouder of the kid’s effort,” said Stanger.

Boulnemour went from being the kicking star to the punting hero for Vicksburg, as he continually had to chase down high snaps and once had to go to his left foot to avoid the rush for a 29 yarder.

“The field goals were big for us and my front guys blocked well with the hold also being good,” said Boulnemour. “Playing soccer, I use both feet equally and when I hurt my right hip a few years ago it helped make me go to the left foot and had no choice as the rush was to my right.”

“That kid (Boulnemour) was gigantic for us to have that kind of kicker in high school, but our defense was fantastic as a lot of kids stepped up,“ said Marchese. “All 11 guys played very hard when they were on the field and they were well conditioned for this kind of game from their summer work.”

Senior Logan Pellow gave the Dowagiac faithful something to cheer for with a 26-yard scamper as he cut back after a logjam in the middle of the field. The drive would stall at the 18-yard line with 3:34 on the scoreboard in the final quarter.

A missed field goal by Scanlon from 35 yards to try to tie the contest, as it sailed high enough and long enough, but the ball drifted to the right to the dismay of Dowagiac.

“The support of all the teammates is outstanding toward each other and I will take Brett any day from down the middle to kick the ball as it seemed we never got the bounces even after all those bad snaps on their punts,” stated Stanger. “That kid (Boulnemour) is good and never saw a kick by the other foot do so well as he did a good job of keeping his composure.”

Vicksburg gained no yards on three rushes and then (Boulnemour) received a perfect snap at the most crucial time and delivered a 50-yard punt, which the Chiefs could not recover from.

“The last punt was a good snap and got to kick with the (right) foot,” concluded a cheerful Boulnemour.

Each team could only convert on seven first downs as they traded achieving five and two, respectively in halves. Dowagiac committed nine infractions for 74 yards with the Bulldogs giving up 47 yards on six penalties.

Dowagiac out gained the victors by a 169-122 margin with Pellow being the leading rusher with 38 yards as seven other teammates had a rushing statistic. Passing yardage was also minimal as the Chiefs completed two passes for 44 yards, with Vicksburg having six receptions totaling 33 yards.

Vicksburg 3 3 0 0 – 6

Dowagiac 0 3 0 0 – 3

V – Jesse Boulnemour 22 field goal

D – Brett Scanlon 33 field goal

V – Boulnemour 31 field goal