Dowagiac rallies to beat Berrien Springs

Published 9:39 am Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Michigan State marching band performed at halftime of the Dowagiac-Berrien Springs game Friday night. (Leader photo/CAROL NOVAK)

The Michigan State marching band performed at halftime of the Dowagiac-Berrien Springs game Friday night. (Leader photo/CAROL NOVAK)

A big defensive stand and the biggest offensive play of the night for either team helped the Dowagiac football team remain undefeated all-time against Berrien Springs Friday night.

Trailing 15-12 late in the fourth quarter, the Chieftains (3-1, 1-0 West) turned in a goal-line stand from its own 6-yard line and then on the ensuing play tossed a 94-yard touchdown to pull out an 18-15 Wolverine Conference West Division victory over the visiting Shamrocks.

With only seven minutes left in the contest, Berrien Springs (1-3, 0-1 West) faced a 4th-and-goal from the Chieftains’ 6-yard line.

Shamrock quarterback Kyle Rago went to 6-foot-5 John Williams in the back of the end zone. However, Dowagiac’s Zach Williams, who was giving up five inches in height to Williams, was in perfect defensive position and knocked the ball away.

The Chieftains then turned in the biggest play of the night when quarterback Austin Broda found a wide open Brandon Hatch for a 94-yard touchdown pass to give Dowagiac the lead with 6:38 to play on the clock.

Hatch, a sophomore, made a nifty move on Rago at the Shamrocks’ 35-yard line and then outran Rago to the end zone for the go-ahead score.

“It was an out and up and they bit on it,” Dowagiac coach Mike Stanger said of the game-winning play. “Austin did a great job of buying time and threw a great ball on the run. We needed a big play and we got it and once we got that big play our confidence starting building a little bit.”

From there, Dowagiac’s defense took over, stopping Berrien Springs on its next two possessions, including a fumble recovery on its final drive by Brody Froehlich.

Neither team was able to generate much offense in the first 24 minutes of play.

It was the defensive play of Berrien Springs that allowed the Shamrocks to take an 8-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.

After Dowagiac blocked  Christian Haack’s field goal attempt with 24 seconds remaining in the half, the Chieftains decided to try and score instead of running out the clock.

Williams deflected Broda’s pass attempt up into the air and Michigan State recruit Nick Padla picked it out of the air and rumbled 15-yards for the score just before the Spartan marching band took the field for its halftime show.

Dowagiac cut the lead to 8-6 with a 44-yard run by Chase Camp early in the third quarter, but the Shamrocks came right back and extended its advance to 15-6 on a 5-yard run by Bo Taylor with 4:36 to play.

The score would remain that away until the Chieftains’ late game heroics.

Dowagiac finished the night with 309 yards in total offense, including 188 through the air as Broda finished the evening 7-of-16. The Chieftains had 121 yards rushing led by Camp’s 51 yards on four carries.

Berrien Springs finished with 168 yards. Rago threw for 101.

Dowagiac will look to build on the momentum from victory as it hosts Coloma for Homecoming Friday night.


Berrien 0 8 7 0 – 15

Dowagiac 0 0 12 6 – 18

BS – Nick Padla 15 interception return (Bo Taylor run)

D – Chase Camp 44 run (pass failed)

BS – Taylor 5 run (Christian Haack kick)

D -Rolly Lucio 15 run (kick failed)

D – Brandon Hatch 94 pass from Austin Broda (pass failed)