Cassopolis holds on against Buchanan

Published 7:34 am Saturday, September 28, 2013

Marquise Curtis scored a pair of touchdowns to help Cassopolis defeat Buchanan in its Lakeland Conference opener. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Marquise Curtis scored a pair of touchdowns to help Cassopolis defeat Buchanan in its Lakeland Conference opener. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Cassopolis football coach Dan Purlee was relieved to have the ball last in Friday’s Lakeland Conference game against Buchanan.

The Rangers were able to run out the final seconds on the clock and hold on for a 35-34 win.

Leads weren’t safe throughout the game as both teams were able to score off of big plays on offense and on special teams.

“With 32 (Doug Freeman) in their backfield you never know what’s going to happen,” said Purlee, whose team improved to 3-2 overall and 1-0 the conference.

Freeman, who rushed for 155 yards on 21 carries, pulled the Bucks within 35-32 with 2:32 left in the game after scoring on a 41-yard run. A 2-point conversion pass from Alex Leiter to Lance Haner cut the Rangers’ lead to 35-34.

Freeman came into the game with 603 yards rushing on 84 carries.

The Buchanan standout also made an impact on special teams as he scored on an 84-yard kickoff return in the first quarter after Cassopolis had scored a few seconds earlier on a 20-yard run from Marquise Curtis.

“We did a great job in the first half (against Freeman) but they spread us out there at the end and you give that guy space it’s hard to make open field tackles against him,” Purlee said.

Buchanan attempted an onside kick and Cassopolis’ Jeremiah Hartsell recovered at midfield. The Rangers sealed the win with :36 left when quarterback VaShaun Morgan gained five yards on a 3rd-and-inches play at Buchanan’s 30-yard line.

Cassopolis welcomed the return of Morgan, who had missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain. Morgan entered the game midway through the second quarter and made an immediate impact. His 41-yard pass to Tymari Brown gave the Rangers a first-and-goal at the Bucks’ 10-yard line. Two plays later, Curtis scored on a 10-yard run to tie the game at 14 with 4:06 left in the second quarter.

“He provided a huge spark for us,” Purlee said about Morgan. “He gives us a run threat back there (at quarterback) and he provides us with senior leadership. He can execute our offense well. It was big getting him back. He brings a confidence I think to the whole team. We also got good guys that can go in (at quarterback) behind him in. Nick Murphy does a nice job running our offense and he threw a couple of nice balls today. We even worked in (Marquise) Curtis. He played some quarterback last week.”

There were three lead changes in the second half with the Rangers taking the lead for good at 28-26 after Murphy and Brown hooked up on a 65-yard scoring pass with :30 left in the third quarter.

The 6-foot, 200-pound Brown also caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Morgan with 4:35 left in the game. That score extended Cassopolis’ lead to 35-26.

“He’s got good hands and he’s a big, physical kid,” Purlee said about Brown. “They loaded the box against us and we snuck him out a few times. He made big plays for us.”

Buchanan coach Mike Kuntz wasn’t happy about those big plays and other yardage that his team allowed. Cassopolis rushed for 172 yards and got an 80-yard kickoff return from Travis Edwards in the third quarter. Edwards also rushed for 79 yards on 21 carries.

“Our defense and our kicking game were very bad,” said Kuntz, whose team fell to 1-4 overall and 0-1 in the league. “We had three kids stand back there in the secondary and let 88 (Brown) run right by them. We worked on that same exact route all week.”

Cassopolis kicker Matt Locke also played a big role in the win. He made up for an early mistake and made all five of his extra-points. Buchanan missed an extra-point and had a 2-point conversion pass fail.

“We chewed his butt out,” Purlee said about Locke. “He was pretty down early on. Our game plan was not to kick to 32 (Freeman) and on the first play of the game he kicked to 32 short. We emphasized that we were kicking away from him and (Locke) must have missed it. But, from that point on, he was lights out (on extra-points).”


Buchanan 7 7 12 8 – 34

Cassopolis  7 7 14 7 – 35

C – Marquise Curtis 20 run (Matt Locke kick)

B – Doug Freeman 84 kickoff return (Alex Martinez kick)

B – Tyler Flynn 10 pass from Alex Leiter (Martinez kick)

C – Curtis 10 run (Locke kick)

B – Leiter 15 run (kick failed)

C – Travis Edwards 80 kickoff return (Locke kick)

B – Freeman 14 run (pass failed)

C – Tymari Brown 65 pass from Nick Murphy (Locke kick)

C – Brown 15 pass from VaShaun Morgan (Locke kick)

B – Freeman 41 run (Leiter pass to Lance Haner)