Dowagiac edges Otsego 15-14

Published 2:12 pm Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dowagiac coach Mike Stanger (right) is informed by the officials that the game will be suspended due to weather. The contest was resumed Saturday afternoon with the Chieftains defeating Otsego 15-14. (The Daily News/Carol Novak)

A 2-yard Brett Scanlon quarterback keeper with 11:23 remaining in the game Saturday afternoon lifted the Dowagiac football team to a 15-14 Wolverine Conference victory over visiting Otsego that took two days to complete.

After multiple weather delays Friday night, the officials finally decided around 9:30 p.m. to postpone the game until Saturday afternoon.

The key league contest was deadlocked at 6-6 with the Bulldogs set to kick the extra point when the contest was halted for the final time.

Saturday afternoon when the two teams returned to Chris Taylor-Alumni Field, Eric Dennis knocked the extra point through the uprights and Otsego took a 7-6 lead with 10:11 remaining in the opening half.

Dowagiac (7-1) would reclaim the lead before the end of the opening half when Scanlon connected on a 42-yard field goal with 5:42 remaining.

After a night of the two coaching staffs looking over film and making any necessary adjustments, the two teams headed into halftime to make some more adjustments for the final 24 minutes of play.

According to Dowagiac coach Mike Stanger, the team had a “plan B and a plan C” ready for Saturday, but instead decided to just challenge the players to execute better.

While the Chieftain offense didn’t exactly overwhelm the Bulldogs’ defense, it did enough to put points on the board and possess the ball.

However, on the defensive side of the football, Dowagiac came up with big play after big play to keep the Bulldogs out of the end zone in the final quarter with the game on the line.

Otsego reclaimed the lead with 2:03 to play in the third quarter when Harold Watkins hauled in a 25-yard touchdown pass from Jared Klein to make it 14-9 following Dennis’ kick.

The Bulldogs had an opportunity to extend their advantage by three points, but a field goal attempt by Dennis was wide left.

Following the Watkins touchdown, Dowagiac got a huge 64-yard kickoff return from Brendon Murray to set the Chieftains up at the Otsego 32-yard line.

From there, Dowagiac needed just six plays to reach the end zone and reclaim the lead. A Scanlon to Dontel Highsmith 14-yard pass play and a 12-yard run down to the 2-yard line by D.J. Hunt were also key in the Chieftains’ scoring the game-winning touchdown.

Dowagiac then turned the game over to its defense, which stopped Klein and the Bulldogs pretty much in their tracks over the final 11 minutes of the contest.

Interceptions by Todd McIntyre and Logan Pellow, the later with 31.5 seconds remaining in the game, sealed the victory for the Chieftains and sets up Friday night’s showdown at Paw Paw for the Wolverine Conference championship.

Dowagiac needs to beat the undefeated Redskins to claim a share of its first league title.

“We knew our defense was going to be good because it has been good all year,” Dowagiac coach Mike Stanger said. “We have leaned on them all year and a lot of that has to do with Pat (Lyle). I know in my years here he doesn’t get enough credit. I don’t think people realize how much work he puts into preparing a game plan. He breaks down film better than anyone I have been around. We know tendencies left and right, we know formations and that’s all Pat.

“They (Otsego) had 10 in the box and were trying to force us to throw the ball. I think we were probably close to 50-50 throwing the ball. We had some guys open. We missed some passes and we dropped some passes, but they were there. We have been working at becoming more balanced because we have some weapons. It wasn’t pretty offensively, but it was enough to get the job done. We are going to keep working because Paw Paw has a real good defense.”

Dowagiac finished with just 181 yards in total offense. The Chieftains rushed for 96 yards led by Murray’s 49 stripes on five carries. Scanlon and Cal Cox combined to go 10-of-18 for 85 yards.

The Bulldogs finished the game with 357 yards of offense. Otsego was balanced as well as it ran for 182 and passed for 175. Klein led the Bulldogs in both departments as he had 51 yards on 11 carries and was 16-of-31 passing with the two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Dowagiac got on the scoreboard first after stopping Otsego on downs on its first possession of the contest.

Dowagiac marched 80 yards in nine plays to take a 6-0 lead when quarterback Scanlon hit Highsmith with a 5-yard touchdown touchdown pass.

The extra point attempt sailed just left of the upright, however.

The scoring drive was the only possession of the first quarter for the Chieftains.

Otsego dominated time of possession as it finished the quarter with 120 yards in total offense compared to Dowagiac’s 80.

With 10:11 to play in the first half, the Bulldogs capped their second drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass from  Klein to Brandan Campbell.

As Otsego lined up for the extra point, officials once again saw lightning and at that point decided to finish the game Saturday afternoon.

The game was delayed an hour and 10 minutes from its original start time when a thunderstorm rolled through the immediate area.

The game was halted two other times before it was officially postponed.

Otsego 0 7 7 0 – 14

Dowagiac 6 3 0 6 – 15

D – Dontel Highsmith 5 pass from Brett Scanlon (kick fails)

O – Brandan Campbell 5 pass from Jared Klein (Eric Dennis kick)

D – Scanlon 42 field goal

O – Harold Watkins 25 pass from Klein (Dennis kick)

D – Scanlon 2 run (run fails)