SPRINGFIELD - In a gridlocked game that saw both sides each produce four turnovers, Wabasso's Neil Eichten made the most of his few opportunities.
Eichten connected with senior receiver T.J. Fulton for two touchdowns - a 73-yarder late in the third quarter and a 71-yarder midway through the fourth - to give Wabasso its 13-7 win against No. 6 Springfield on Friday night.
"I looked off the safety and I knew [Fulton] was going to be wide open so I just threw it up to him hoping his speed would go get it," Eichten said.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Wabasso’s T.J. Fulton (3) makes a catch behind Springfield’s Cooper Scheffler (2) during the Rabbits’ win Friday at Springfield.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Eichten finished his night 9-of-20 for 218 yards and two touchdowns for the Rabbits (3-0, 3-0 SMC). Six of those nine completions went to Fulton, who hauled in 186 yards total.
Those two long scores redeemed Eichten's two interceptions in the first half - both of which landed in the hands of Carter Erickson, who is Springfield's starting quarterback on offense.
"It wasn't a perfect game for either of us," said Wabasso coach Joe Kemp. "We both had a lot of things to work on and get better, but this was two big teams going at it tonight. It was blood and guts out there today."
Kemp and Co. have now beaten the Tigers (2-1, 2-1 SMC) three-straight times.
Springfield almost put the first points on the board when a punt brushed the front of the Wabasso returner, causing the ball to hit the ground before being scooped up by Tyler Vogel en route to what looked like a 32-yard touchdown return.
However, state rules dictate that the ball cannot be advanced on a muffed punt since the returner did not have possession of the ball. This instead gave the Tigers the ball at the Rabbits' 32-yard line.
"Yeah it's frustrating, but it's the rule," said Springfield coach Paul Dunn. "I thought they might call it a fumble, but they didn't. It wasn't a bad call, but it would have been nice to have that."
While trailing 13-0, Erickson led a 12-play, 87-yard drive that was capped off with a 5-yard run by Nick Runck with 4:07 remaining in regulation. Runck led all rushers in the game with 105 yards, one touchdown and one fumble.
However, Wabasso was then able to whittle the clock down to 0:12 before giving the ball to Springfield one more time.
"They were running power right up the middle and they outweighed us in there a little bit and our guys were getting tired and started to play high," Dunn said. "They got a couple first downs there I wish they wouldn't have.
"But Joe did a great job of controlling the clock there and we were kind of at their mercy," Dunn said. "As long as they keep getting first downs in that situation, you've just got to tip your hat and go on to the next play."
Running back Tanner Bock ate up most of the clock with eight of his 23 carries coming on Wabasso's final drive. Bock amassed 80 rushing yards with those 23 carries.
Springfield got the ball back with 0:04 left on the clock, giving it one last shot at the end zone from 78 yards out.
An 8-yard pass by Erickson to Vogel was fixing to keep the Tigers alive via a backward lateral, but Vogel's knee hit the ground to end the game.
"They're a great program and to win three-straight against them and their coaching staff is an accomplishment for our guys," Kemp said. "It's a big deal."
Wabasso 0 0 7 6 - 13
Springfield 0 0 0 7 - 7
W - Deutschmann 37-yard FG no good, 7:01 remaining
W - Eichten to T. Fulton 73-yard TD pass (Deutschmann PAT good), 0:46 remaining
W - Eichten to T. Fulton 71-yard TD pass (Deutschmann PAT no good), 5:37 remaining
S - Runck 5-yard TD run (Salonek PAT good), 4:07 remaining