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Springfield rallies past Sleepy Eye

SPRINGFIELD — Despite trailing 15-0 at the half, Springfield pulled off an impressive come-from-behind 18-15 victory over Sleepy Eye on Friday night in Southwest District, East Subdistrict football action.

Decker Scheffler was a staple for the Tigers (2-5, 2-3) on offense, throwing for 212 yards and a touchdown on a 10-for-17 night through the air. He also added a rushing touchdown.

Jordan Kieper provided the Tigers with some big plays in the game, catching four passes for 102 yards. He also added an interception for the defense.

Cole Christensen had two catches for Springfield for 60 yards and a touchdown, while Mason Rummel ran for 45 yards and a score on 17 carries. Devin Johnson had another key Springfield interception late in the game.

“Our intensity was much better coming out of the locker room in that second half,” Tigers coach Paul Dunn said. “We made a couple of adjustments — my coaching staff is real good at that — and I think we just played with a lot more enthusiasm and heart than we did in that first half.”

Dunn also gave Kieper, Rummel and the defensive line credit for stepping up in the second half.

Sleepy Eye (2-5, 2-4) was solid in the first half when it came to shutting down the Springfield offense. The Indians also got their offense down the field for two scores in the half. Sleepy Eye took the ball to the Springfield 33-yard line after a pass by Zachary Haala to Jacob Berg went for 24 yards.

After the completion, a 16-yard run by Berg and a 5-yard facemask penalty on Springfield, Sleepy Eye’s Landon Strong punched in a 4-yard touchdown with 2:20 left in the first quarter. Strong struck again in the second quarter after a cutback to the left led to a 66-yard run for 6.

The extra point gave Sleepy Eye the 15-0 lead at the half.

Scheffler got things going for the Tigers in the second half with a 38-yard pass to Kieper to the Sleepy Eye 31. Scheffler then found Christensen on a slant route for a 30-yard touchdown.

The Springfield 2-point try was no good and the Tigers trailed 15-6 in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Scheffler found Kieper again on a deep pass that went for 39 yards. Scheffler then took a 9-yard run to the right in for 6. The extra point was blocked, however, by the Indians and the Tigers trailed 15-12.

Scheffler completed another pass to Christensen for 30 yards and after a helmet-to-helmet penalty on Sleepy Eye, the Tigers had the ball at the 1-yard line. Rummel then ran in a 1-yard touchdown to put the Tigers ahead 18-15 with 4:28 left to play. A second Springfield extra-point kick was blocked and the Indians were forced to attempt a late comeback of their own.

Kieper picked off a big pass, though, after the ball was tipped in the air by Johnson. Sleepy Eye did manage to hold off the Tigers and force a punt with less than three minutes to go, but Johnson grabbed an interception of his own with 2:16 left to play.

Springfield was then able to run down the clock and pull away with the victory.

“You can’t blame one player — or offense or defense — it was collective,” Sleepy Eye coach Cory Haala said. “You gotta give Springfield some credit. They played hard, they kept battling and we had some things unfortunately not go our way. But again, you’re going to have ups and downs in a football game. When you have those downs you have to figure out a way to fight through it.”

No stats were provided by Sleepy Eye.

Sleepy Eye hosts Lakeview at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, while Springfield travels to play New Ulm Cathedral at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

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