Sophomores lead the way for the undefeated Rangers
Published 12:04 pm Saturday, September 17, 2016
Led by their four sophomores, the Cassopolis Rangers won their home opening game against the visiting Berrien Springs Shamrocks 28-21 to move to 4-0 on the season.
The common word used after the game to describe their first varsity home game experience together, awesome.
Sophomore Dylan Green recovered the opening kickoff, a gambling onside kick, to surprise the Shamrocks. He would finish the night with eight yards rushing and three tackles.
“We knew we needed to through some surprises in there,” Cassopolis coach Dan Purlee said. “We gambled tonight with the onside kick and we had to think outside of the box on some of our tactics.”
”Tonight was great,” Green said. “The experience was great. Our line came out and executed. Our quarterback stuck in there. Honestly, I wouldn’t have this game any other way.”
Unable to get a touchdown on a fourth-and-goal on the opening drive, the Berrien Springs’ rushing attack showed its hand on a Nate Nannfeldt 79-yard rushing touchdown. Nannfeldt would finish with 175 rushing yards on the night.
A Micha Welch interception with three minutes left in the first quarter gave Rangers’ quarterback Shane Los the ball at the Berrien Springs 44-yard line. On the first play of the drive Los found sophomore teammate Tyrese Hunt-Thompson on a 37-yards screen pass. Los would then run the ball in for Rangers’ first touchdown.
Taking another gamble, Cassopolis would again attempt an onside kick, which was recovered by sophomore Skylar McKee.
The ensuing drive would be thwarted on a fake punt pass that was intercepted by the Shamrocks.
“Tonight was an honor,” McKee said. “I wouldn’t trade this team for any team in the world. We executed what we needed to and our defense was outstanding.”
McKee finished with a recovered onside kick, a fumble recovery and three tackles (one for loss).
Both teams would go back and forth on three-and-outs before the Shamrock punter had a pick go for a loss of four yards, putting the Rangers in the red zone.
Los would then run in for his second touchdown of the game.
The Rangers’ defense would force four straight three-and-outs to end the first half.
Aided by a roughing the passer penalty, a third-down conversion by Welch, and two fourth-down conversion by Green and Hunt-Thompson, the Ranger would go up by two scores on a 2-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore Hunter Parsons.
“The line was great today,” Parsons said. “They were able to get me in and they did very well. Overall I would say we did pretty well.”
Parsons had 25 yards of offense, the one touchdown and eight tackles on the night.
The following drive, the Ranger defense was able to force another three-and-out, but the punt snap was fumbled and recovered by the Shamrocks on the Cassopolis 22-yard line. Nannfeldt would run three consecutive times and as the Shamrocks cut the lead to a single touchdown.
Cassopolis’ corresponding drive turned into another turnover as a Los pass was intercepted.
Nannfeldt made the Rangers pay for the mistake by running for his third touchdown of the night.
Unfortunately the fourth quarter continued to slow the Rangers’ attempt to get downfield. A questionable fumble by Los gave the Shamrocks the ball with seven minutes left in the game.
The Rangers defense did their job and forced another punt. But crucial roughing the kicker and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties by the Rangers moved the ball to the Cassopolis 27-yard line.
Unable to get a first down, the Shamrocks attempted a 35-yard field goal by Brant Rago, which was well short and to the right.
Facing a long field and three minutes left in the game, all the Rangers had to do was get into field goal range.
Hunt-Thompson had other ideas.
Consecutive receptions of 40- and 43-yards, including a touchdown, put the Rangers up 28-21.
Hunt-Thompson would finish with 44 rushing yards, 147 receiving yards, touchdown, and two tackles.
“Tonight was fun,” Hunt-Thompson said. “We had to face some adversity. I never doubted my team. This was a really good win for us.”
McKee would solidify a Rangers’ victory recovering a Shamrock fumble the following drive.
“I tell you what, these guys have stepped up for us all year long,” Purlee said. “At Mendon two weeks ago, all five of our scores were scored by three of these guys right here. Against New Buffalo last week, our top two tacklers were these guys. These are 15-year-old kids that have a bright future coming to the program.”
The Cassopolis sophomores would account for 61 of the 62 rushing yards, 163 of the 233 receiving yards, both onside kick recoveries, a recovered fumble and 16 total tackles.
Cassopolis hosts Buchanan in the second of three consecutive, and final, home games of the season.
Due to the issues with the new track, the field will be ripped up beginning after the White Pigeon game Sept. 30.
The Rangers fourth home game has been moved to Comstock in October so that work on the field can begin.
CASSOPOLIS 28, BERRIEN SPRINGS 21
Berrien 7 0 7 7 21
Cassopolis 7 7 7 7 28
BS – Nate Nannfeldt 79 yard run (Brant Rago kick).
C – Shane Los 6 yard run (Brandon Anderson kick).
C – Los 1 yard run (Anderson kick).
C – Hunter Parsons 2 yard run (Anderson kick).
BS – Nannfeldt 2 yard run (Rago kick).
BS – Nannfeldt 20 yard run (Rago kick).
C – Los 43 yard pass to Tyrese Hunt-Thompson (Anderson kick).
Varsity records: Berrien Springs 1-2, Cassopolis 4-0.