SPRINGFIELD - The Springfield Tigers veered away from their usual ground and pound style of football Friday night in their 27-19 win over the Cedar Mountain/Comfrey Cougars, going instead to the air game.
Courtesy of three interceptions thrown by the Cougars.
Jacob Menage had two picks and Christopher Kretsch had one to go along with a few drive-killing penalties for CM/C for a victory that wasn't wrapped up until there were 90 seconds left in the game.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Cedar Mountain/Comfrey’s Cole Kelly is tackled by Christopher Kretsch as Zach Wells (9) closes in on the play during the Tigers’ win Friday in Springfield.
"Those three interceptions were big," Springfield coach Paul Dunn said. "We weren't able to run off-tackle much tonight, but we're getting better each week. We need to possess the ball and play great defense and we got both tonight."
"I thought we executed well in the pass and run," CM/C coach Brian Longerbone said. "We were one or two plays from winning. Our kids made a great effort and I have high hopes for them."
It looked like the Cougars' hopes would be dashed early by the Tigers, as Zach Mickelson ran the opening kickoff to CM/C's 46-yard line, then watched as Springfield quarterback Menage hit Cole Milbrath on the first play from scrimmage for a 42-yard pass down to the Cougars' four.
Two plays later, Mickelson went right up the middle for the touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion, courtesy of a Menage to Karson Herfurth connection.
The Cougars opened on offense by losing 34 yards, then on the next possession, quarterback Riley Kerkhoff threw his first pick to Menage. While the Tigers didn't score until late in the half, they held a commanding lead of time of possession.
Springfield made it 14-0 when Kretsch zig-zagged his way into the end zone after a 26-yard run with 1:52 left in the second quarter.
Suddenly, CM/C's offense came alive, with Riley Kerkhoff throwing three straight completions on a 59-yard drive that took just 1:33. Brady Kerkhoff swept left and scored to make it 14-6. A Sam Pendleton extra point cut the Tigers' lead to seven at halftime.
Menage's second interception interrupted a Cougars drive that opened the third quarter and put Springfield just 45 yards from the goal line. Eight plays later, Menage scored behind the offensive line and a good extra point moved the score to 21-7.
Riley Kerkhoff then made a great throw to a diving Brady Kerkhoff just over the goal line to put CM/C back in the game with 9:59 left in the game. Menage then threw a 56-yard rainbow of his own to Kretsch, who made it down to the Cougars' six.
Two plays later, Zach Wells went in standing up to make it 27-13 with just 4:00 to play. Then it was Springfield's time to get sloppy with the ball.
A fumble recovered by the Cougars at the Tigers' 36 with no timeouts and 1:46 to play resulted in a neat hook and ladder play, then a pass to Brady Kerkhoff in the end zone. Three plays in 20 seconds and a 27-19 score. But the onside kick by CM/C was recovered by Springfield and the Tigers' ran out the clock.
Menage ended with 141 yards passing and Kretsch had 79 receiving.
The 3-0 Tigers resume play next Friday at Wabasso at 7 p.m., while CM/C hosts Red Rock Central at 1 p.m. next Saturday.