LONDON -- Coach Maurice Douglass knew his top-seeded Springfield football team would be in for a battle against third-seeded Dublin Coffman on Nov. 22 in the Division I, Region 2 final at London, but he wasn’t worried.
His Wildcats had risen to the challenge week in and week out, and they did again with a 7-3 victory over the Shamrocks to win their first regional championship.
Fifth-ranked Springfield improved to 12-1 and advanced to play ninth-ranked Cincinnati Elder in a state semifinal Nov. 29 at a neutral site.
“We have been resilient all year, and we were able to come through tonight,” Douglass said. “This was a physical game, and they have some players over there. We thought it would come down to who had the ball last.”
Coffman, which finished 10-3, led 3-0 at halftime on a 30-yard field goal by Casey Magyar.
On Springfield’s second play of the third quarter, wide receiver Larry Stephens caught a pass over the middle from quarterback Te’Sean Smoot for a 37-yard gain to the Coffman 48.
Three plays later, Stephens kept the drive alive with a 14-yard reception to the Shamrocks’ 29, and Smoot capped the 12-play, 82-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:03 left in the third quarter.
“That was a nice (37-yard) pass, and that kid (Stephens) has done that all year,” Coffman coach Mark Crabtree said. “That play was huge.”
Coffman had two scoring chances in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Connor Mathews fumbled after a hard hit at the Springfield 30 with 10 minutes left, and Devon Williams was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-2 at the Wildcats’ 12 with 3:16 remaining.
“We were in a power set, and we felt pretty good about it,” Crabtree said of the fourth-down run. “We had been successful in the times we had used it in the past. In the end, maybe it was a little too long for it in a fourth-down situation.”
Coffman had one more opportunity, but Wildcats linebacker Javion Norman knocked down a pass by Mathews on fourth-and-11 near midfield.
The Shamrocks outgained Springfield 269-220 in total yards, but also had the game’s only turnover. Bryon Threats battled an ankle injury to rush for 77 yards on 18 carries and had four receptions for 84 yards.
Mathews was 8-for-13 passing for 137 yards and rushed for 23 yards on 13 carries. Moussa Diallo added 32 yards rushing on six carries.
Smoot was 8-for-15 passing for 116 yards, and Stephens caught three passes for 56 yards. Tavion Smoot led the Wildcats on the ground, rushing for 53 yards on 16 carries.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final DUBLIN COFFMAN 3 0 0 0 3 SPRINGFIELD
0 0 0 7 7
DC—Magyar 30 FG
S—Te. Smoot 1 run (Yost kick)