Dowagiac knocks off Sturgis 16-7

Published 11:17 pm Friday, October 9, 2015

Dowagiac’s Austin Taggart hauls in a pass against Sturgis Friday night. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Dowagiac’s Austin Taggart hauls in a pass against Sturgis Friday night. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Not many people gave the Dowagiac football team a chance against a Sturgis team that came into Friday night’s Wolverine Conference contest with just one loss.

After all, the Chieftains had lost back-to-back games to drop to 3-3 on the season and turned the ball over six times in its previous loss to Plainwell.

But not many people were able to measure the heart Dowagiac has and the pride it has.

That heart was on display as the Chieftains defeated the visiting Trojans 16-7 to keep their playoff hopes alive.

“The playoffs start now,” Dowagiac coach Mike Stanger said prior to the game. “We have to win ever game from here on out.”

Stanger was proud of the way his team performed in the face of adversity, which included the loss of starters Jared Hatch (broken ankle), Scott Hassle (ankle sprain) and Justin Taggart (ankle sprain).

“I don’t think a lot of people gave us a chance tonight,” Stanger said. “They were 5-1 and we were 3-3 and coming off two losses, especially an ugly one up in Plainwell. We showed a lot of character tonight.”

One of those players who showed just how tough he is was quarterback Anthony Neubauer, who struggled in the Chieftains’ 17-8 loss to the Trojans, but bounced back against Sturgis.

Neubauer was 3-of-5 passing for yards and a 20-yard touchdown pass to Erik Walker.

“I give Anthony Neubauer a ton of credit,” Stanger said. “He had a rough game last week there is no question. That kid had a great game today. That is stuff you learn in sports. The kids that don’t play sports don’t learn how that one minute you are the heel and then he comes out tonight making plays. That says a lot about our kids. They are tough kids.”

Sturgis (5-2) got on the board first as it took the opening kickoff and marched down the field to take a 7-0 lead on a Tristen Stewart 5-yard run.

Dowagiac (4-3) would answer with a first quarter score of its own as Ronnie Payne cut through the middle of the Trojan defense to score from 26-yards out. Lazaro Piedra tacked on what would turn out to be the game-winning 2-point conversion.

The Chieftains would cap the scoring in the second quarter on Neubauer’s pass to Walker and Piedra’s conversion run.

Dowagiac would finish with 232 yards of total offense, including 158 yards on the ground.

Piedra finished with 105 yards on 22 carries.

Sturgis racked up 351 yards of total offense with 198 coming on 13-of-25 passing by Stewart, who was picked off by Austin Taggart and Shawn Sirk.

Collin Hassle led Dowagiac defensively with seven tackles, including two for loss and a sack.

Austin Jones and Kyle Their both finished with five tackles, including one for loss.



At Dowagiac

Sturgis            7          0          0          0 – 7

Dowagiac        8          8          0          0 – 16

S – Tristen Stewart 5 run (Rodrigo Garcia Carmona kick)

D – Ronnie Payne 26 run (Lazaro Piedra run)

D – Erik Walker 20 pass from Anthony Neubauer (Piedra run)

Varsity records: Sturgis 5-2, Dowagiac 4-3