Rangers roll in opening round

Published 8:00 am Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cassopolis quarterback Nick Murphy scored a pair of touchdowns to help lead the Rangers to a 30-7 win over LMC Friday night. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

Cassopolis quarterback Nick Murphy scored a pair of touchdowns to help lead the Rangers to a 30-7 win over LMC Friday night. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

Cassopolis used a stout defensive effort, ground-and-pound offensive scheme and efficient ball control to grind out its first playoff victory since 2010.

The Rangers showed no mercy in a 30-7 win over visiting Lake Michigan Catholic in opening round action of the MHSAA Division 7 state playoffs Friday night.

Though the final score would suggest that the game was a lopsided affair in favor of the home team, the reality of the situation was quite different.

After scoring the game’s first touchdown early in the opening quarter, the Rangers (7-3) received a gift in the form of a Laker fumble on the ensuing kickoff, which they then wasted little time turning into points as they took a 14-0 lead.

After adding 16 more points on two second quarter scores, the Ranger offense ran into a lengthy bout of stagnancy that lasted the entire second half.

The Lakers (7-3) would get an 8-yard rushing touchdown from senior tailback Justin Salvano in the second quarter and they also had a bevy of solid opportunities to make something happen throughout the remainder of the game, but they either flat-out missed them or got shutdown by a superior Ranger defense.

Trevon Brown (95 yards) and Isiah Crider (73 yards) led the Rangers potent rushing attack that totaled 238 yards of Cass’ 279 yards total on the day. Ranger quarterback Nick Murphy had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs and added another through the air when he connected with freshman Marquise Curtis for a 30-yard strike.

Former Niles Viking Travis Edwards added 40-yards and a touchdown to Cass’ rushing efforts.

When the dust had settled, the Rangers came away with 279 to 237 advantage in total yardage on the day and a resounding performance on the defensive side of the ball that had their coach Dan Purlee in a state of exuberance after winning his first playoff game as a head coach.

“The guys went out there and did their jobs tonight,” Purlee said. “They free flowing and swarming to the ball. They were able to carry out the adjustments we made throughout the game and they just fought tooth-and-nail on every play out there. Our offensive execution was probably the best it has been all season in the first half, but then we kind of lost it there in the second half. But the defense really came through.”

The Rangers will now move on to host the perennial powerhouse Decatur Raiders (7-3) Friday night in the second round.

“They have a heckuva football team over there,” Purlee said. Those guys are veterans who have been there a lot more than we have, but we’re not satisfied with one playoff win. We’re hungry and we want to play as long as we can. We’re going to give them everything we got next week.”


Cassopolis 14 16 0 0 – 30

Lake Michigan 0 7 0 0 –7

C – Nick Murphy 1 run (run failed)

C – Murphy 1 run (Tymari Brown pass from Murphy)

C – Trevon Brown 8 run (K. Brown run)

LMC – Justin Salvano 8 run (Daniel Hernandez kick)

C – Marquise Curtis 30 pass from Murphy (Travis Edwards run)