The magnitude of the victory left some Springfield Wildcats in tears. It left them all jumping around on the turf Saturday night at Wittenberg’s Edwards-Maurer Field as if they had just won a playoff game.
November is 10 weeks away, but Springfield had every reason to celebrate with gusto after a 22-20 victory over Dublin Coffman.
The Wildcats had not won a season opener — unless you count a 2013 forfeit by Trotwood-Madison — since 2009 when they beat Hamilton 35-28 on an overtime touchdown run by junior Trey DePriest. Springfield’s seniors had won six games in their first three seasons. A season ago, against Coffman in the opener, they lost 41-7.
This time, senior Danny Davis and junior Leonard Taylor led a second-half comeback to reward some gutsy play-calling by coach Maurice Douglass.
“It means a lot,” Davis said. “We wanted it bad.”
Davis dedicated the victory to Jeff Wellington and George Walker, two former Wildcats shot to death in recent years, saying, “It’s all for them.” He then gave a shout out to the offensive line, which is nicknamed the Grease.
The line freed Davis for a 61-yard touchdown run with 7:43 left in the fourth quarter. That gave the Wildcats a 22-14 lead and proved to be the game-winning score.
“The Grease blocked perfectly,” Davis said. “I hit it up the line. It was six. All I saw was daylight.”
The Wildcats rushed for 224 yards to Coffman’s 121. Davis carried 20 times for 162 yards and had three receptions for 53 yards, including a key 39-yard catch that set up Springfield’s second touchdown. Taylor rushed 12 times for 46 yards and scored two touchdowns. Senior Brymar Payne had 24 yards on eight carries.
Springfield trailed 14-7 when the game was postponed by lightning Friday. The game resumed at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The Wildcats took the lead on a 1-yard run by Taylor and then a two-point conversion run by Davis with 3:03 left in the third quarter. That was the first big play call by Douglass.
The second came with 3:30 to play and the Wildcats leading 22-20. They faced 4th-and-2 at their own 28-yard line and went for first down. They didn’t get it, but an interception by Taylor on Coffman’s next possession preserved the lead.
That was the last gasp for Coffman, which finished 7-4 last season and has advanced to the playoffs seven years in a row.
“This is a huge win for our program,” Douglass said. “I told those guys it would take us about three years to get this thing rolling. I told them that third year would be the year we would make the playoffs, and today was a great start.”