Rangers edged by Decatur 7-0

Published 8:17 am Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Decatur defense tries to haul down Cassopolis' Isaiah Crider Friday night. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

The Decatur defense tries to haul down Cassopolis’ Isaiah Crider Friday night. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Cassopolis’ defense allowed only 146 yards to Decatur in Friday’s Division 7 district final football game.

But that performance wasn’t enough to extend the Rangers’ season as the Raiders blanked Cassopolis, 7-0.

Decatur was even better on defense as Cassopolis totaled only 130 yards. The Rangers struggled just as much on special teams as that unit set up the Raiders game-winning drive in the final minute.

A shanked seven-yard punt by Cassopolis gave Decatur great field position at the Rangers’ 22-yard line with 3:44 left in the game. Six plays later, Raiders’ quarterback Matthew Botti scored on a six-yard run to give Decatur a 7-0 lead with 34.8 left in the game.

With no time-outs, Cassopolis got the ball back at its own 29-yard line. The Rangers drove to their own 48-yard line on a shovel pass from VaShaun Morgan to Isaiah Crider as time expired.

“He just mishandled the snap,” said Cassopolis coach Dan Purlee on what happened to his punter on the seven-yard kick. “He had time.

“Our kids’ heads were deflated (after the seven-yard punt). It’s tough to bounce back from those mistakes. All the momentum is on their side at that time.”

Also on special teams, Cassopolis missed a 30-yard field and threw an interception off a fake attempt on a 27-yard field goal.

“We practice (special teams) all the time,” Purlee said. “Obviously, we don’t practice it enough. We’ve got to get better on special teams. Games don’t always come down to special teams, but a lot of times big (games) do and that’s what happened tonight. We’re just not happy with our field goal unit. We haven’t made a field goal all year. We felt like a fake was our best opportunity to score.”

Both teams squandered some scoring opportunities.

The game started with Cassopolis getting a 56-yard kickoff return from Morgan and getting the ball at Decatur’s 30-yard line. But the Rangers were unable to score after driving to the Raiders four yard line. Cassopolis also turned the ball over on downs in the second quarter after driving to Decatur’s 14 yard line after a Raiders’ turnover.

Decatur turned the ball over on downs after driving to Cassopolis’ five yard line in the second quarter after a Cassopolis turnover.

“We’ve got to capitalize on that,” Purlee said about his team’s scoring chances. “Our defense did a nice job on some takeaways early. We just couldn’t capitalize. Decatur’s well coached on defense.”

Playing well defensively is nothing new for the Raiders. Decatur came into Friday’s game allowing only 93 points on the season with four shutouts.

“It’s one of those defenses where they got people bouncing around all over the place,” Purlee said. “They load up the box on you and do a nice job. They’re disciplined and cover every gap and make it tough to run the ball. Decatur is always a physical team that is going to come right at you on both sides of the ball.”

Cassopolis running back Trevon Brown rushed for 58 yards on 14 carries. The Rangers finished at 7-4, while the Raiders advance to the regional final with an 8-3 record.

“I told these guys (after the game) that I was proud of them,” Purlee said. “We started out the year 1-2 and were beind the 8-ball there. The boys kept coming to work and they were hungry.

“We put ourselves in a good spot tonight. We just came up short. The season is not a failure, but we expect more. This isn’t good enough for us.”


Decatur 0 0 0 7 – 7

Cassopolis 0 0 0 0 – 0

D – Matthew Botti 6 run (Connor Olkowski kick)