Rangers capitalize on mistake for share of title
Published 8:42 am Saturday, October 19, 2013
CASSOPOLIS – Brandywine didn’t look like an unbeaten football team in its Lakeland Conference game Friday against Cassopolis.
The Rangers took advantage of a mistake-prone Bobcat squad and claimed a 35-12 win.
Cassopolis scored 15 points off of four Brandywine turnovers and scored a touchdown off a blocked punt.
“You’ve got to give Cass credit,” said Brandywine coach Mike Nate. “They played harder and wanted it more. Somebody fueled their fire because they came out with guns a blazing. Cass out hit us. They hit us in the mouth.”
The outcome gives Cassopolis and Brandywine a share of the Lakeland Conference title with a 2-1 record. The Bobcats dropped to 7-1 overall, while the Rangers are 5-3 and can clinch a playoff berth with a win next Friday at White Pigeon.
“We’ve been knocked on the door all year,” said Cassopolis coach Dan Purlee. “We were 4-3, but we easily could have been 6-1 coming into this game. We haven’t executed the way we need to and haven’t made plays at the time we needed to make them. I’ve believed in this team from day one. I felt like if we hadn’t gotten it done tonight it would have been a shame.”
Brandywine turned the ball over during its first two drives of the game. The first turnover, which was an interception by Cassopolis’ Alex Voss, proved to be costly. The Rangers turned the miscue into points as VaShaun Morgan tossed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Trevon Brown. The score came on 4th-and-10 at Brandywine’s 34-yard line. On the play, Morgan retreated back several yards after getting a bad snap from center and tossed a beautiful pass to Brown in the left corner of the end zone.
“You can’t design that stuff,” Purlee said. “That’s the kind of stuff that’s been happening to us. It was good to be on the receiving end of something like that.”
“It was just kind of a fluke play,” Nate said. “It looked like a sack or a fumble and the next thing you know it turns into a touchdown.”
Cassopolis added to its lead in the second quarter after a Brandywine breakdown on special teams. Jaquan Christopher blocked a Bobcat punt and Kolin Haithcox recovered the ball in the end zone to give the Rangers a 14-0 lead with 7:27 left in the second quarter.
“It proved that we were just not ready to play,” Nate said about the blocked punt. “(Cassopolis) came through like a sieve. It was just a bad night.”
Brandywine quarterback Andrew Duckett then threw an interception on the drive after the blocked punt. The Bobcats failed to score after driving to the Rangers’ 16-yard line.
“We had few things go our way early on,” Purlee said. “We had a couple of big plays there that gave us some momentum.”
Momentum shifted to Brandywine after Cassopolis lost a fumble at its own three yard line. That happened a play after the Ranger interception.
Marty Ward Jr. then scored on a three-yard run to cut Cassopolis’ lead to 14-6 with 3:08 left in the second quarter. The extra-point was missed.
Brandywine got a fumble recovery from Bela Tiser to start the second half and the Bobcats took advantage of the turnover. Duckett tossed an 11-yard scoring pass to Matthew Kline to pull Brandywine within 14-12 with 5:14 left in the third quarter. The two-point conversion pass failed.
The Bobcats wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the game as the Rangers scored the final 21 points in the fourth quarter. Cassopolis scoring runs of nine yards from Brown, five yards from Travis Edwards and two yards from Morgan. Edwards’ touchdown came after Isaiah Crider picked off a Brandywine pass and returned it 46 yards.
“The wheels came off for us,” Nate said. “We proved that we can’t handle adversity. We’ve got to handle adversity much better than that if we’re going to make a playoff run.”
Edwards rushed for 105 yards on 18 carries. The senior running back totaled 84 yards on the ground on 14 carries in the second half. Cassopolis rushed for 216 yards as a team.
“Edwards is a load,” Purlee said. “When he hits the hole at full speed he’s tough to bring down. He’s a thick kid who can provide a punch and he can motor.”
Ward Jr. rushed for 63 yards on 17 carries for Brandywine.
Brandywine 0 6 6 0 – 12
Cassopolis 7 7 0 21 – 35
C – Trevon Brown 34 pass from VaShaun Morgan (Matt Locke kick)
C – Kolin Haithcox blocked punt recovery in end zone (Locke kick)
B – Marty Ward Jr. 3 run (kick failed)
B – Matthew Kline 11 pass from Andrew Duckett (pass failed)
C – Brown 9 run (Locke kick)
C – Travis Edwards 5 run (Edwards run)
C – Morgan 2 run (kick failed)