The Saugatuck Indians claimed their second ever Regional football championship Friday night with a 7-6 upset at Cassopolis. Saugatuck trailed nearly the entire contest, finally scoring with 2:42 remaining on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Jackson Shriver to Cooper Myers.
After both teams punted for their opening drive, Cassopolis scored what would be their only touchdown. Starting 46 yards from the end zone, a 32-yard Hunter Parsons run put them into the red zone, followed shortly by a 9-yard Brandon Anderson touchdown run with 5:40 remaining in the first quarter. Anderson’s extra point kick was blocked by Keegan Carper, which ended up being decisive by the final gun.
Saugatuck’s second drive made it to the red zone, but ended with Shriver intercepted in the end zone by Tyrese Hunt-Thompson. The remainder of the second half saw two punts and a turnover on downs for both teams, keeping the Rangers up 7-0 at halftime.
Saugatuck started with the ball in the third, but had a three-and-out. Cassopolis made it within 22 yards of scoring, but fell victim to a turnover on downs. From there, Saugatuck started a nearly eight minute drive, culminating in a fourth and two from the five-yard line to start the fourth quarter. Cassopolis made the stop and seemingly had all of the momentum, getting out of their own territory quickly on a 60-yard Anderson run.
The Rangers made it within five yards of scoring their second touchdown. On fourth down, Cassopolis elected for a 22-yard field goal try and once again, Saugatuck came up with a block and took over from their 20 with 6:26 remaining.
Two first downs put them past midfield, but Saugatuck then faced a third and 12 from the 41. Shriver found Myers at open at the 30 and the junior tight end used his blockers for only his second touchdown of the season. Evan Czarnecki made the extra point kick, giving Saugatuck the 7-6 advantage with 2:42 remaining.
Cassopolis couldn’t muster a first down on their ensuing drive and Saugatuck was able to run the clock all the way down to one second. An attempt to drain the final seven seconds on a fourth down play was unsuccessful for Saugatuck, giving Cassopolis one last hope from midfield. Despite numerous laterals, the Rangers couldn’t pull off the miracle.
Unofficially, Shriver was 6-8 for 87 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also had 40 rushing yards, leading his team. He and five other rushers combined for 135 yards. For Cassopolis, quarterback Dylan Green was 2-9 for 20 yards. Anderson rushed for 126 on 12 attempts and a touchdown. They finished with 211 yards on the ground.
Cassopolis finishes the year at 10-2, ending their bid for back-to-back semifinal appearances. Saugatuck moves to 9-3 and is into the semifinal for the second time ever, joining their state runner-up 2010 season. They’ll meet 12-0 Madison at a neutral site to be determined on Saturday, November 18.
Listen back to the Regional final below:
Listen live online Friday night on the Slocum Sports Network to a Division 7 Regional football final with the Cassopolis Rangers hosting the Saugatuck Indians. It is the first ever football meeting between the two schools with the winner advancing to the final four against either unbeaten Madison or Monroe St. Mary Catholic.
Cassopolis enters at 10-1 overall, averaging 44.3 points per game while allowing 8.4 per contest. The Rangers made it to the state semifinal for the first time ever last season, falling to runner-up Detroit Loyola. Cassopolis is in the Regional final for the third consecutive year and been in the playoffs for 11 of the last 12 seasons.
In the regular season, Cassopolis shutout five opponents and rolled through most of the Southwest 10 Conference. Their lone loss came to unbeaten Mendon 34-24 in week eight’s de facto conference championship. In the playoffs, the Rangers defeated Homer (50-14) and Reading (31-16).
Saugatuck enters at 8-3 and are in the Regional final for the second time in school history, joining their state runner-up 2010 season. They’re averaging 30 points per game while allowing 16.9 per contest. They’re in the postseason for the eighth time in 10 seasons.
After a 2-2 start against the powerful SAC Lakeshore, Saugatuck rolled their first four SAC Valley Division opponents 166-18 to secure a playoff spot. The Indians ended the regular season with a thud in a 40-7 loss to Fennville, but bounced back with playoff wins over Springport (47-21) and Maple Valley (14-8).