- By Eric Hickey Contributing Writer
Springfield High School football coach Maurice Douglass knows his team isn’t flashy.
Douglass said his players understand they will have to grind their way to victories.
Unfortunately for the Fairfield Indians, the Wildcats put that attitude on full display at Fairfield Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
In a game delayed from Friday night due to weather, Springfield (2-0) spend much of the day bottled up but used big plays late to score a 15-14 victory over the Indians.
Larry Stephens made a spectacular 35-yard touchdown catch with 1:13 left and quarterback Raheim Moss ran in the two-point conversion to stun the Indians (1-1).
“We always talk about the grind,” Douglass said afterward while surrounded by his celebrating team. “I couldn’t be prouder of our guys, especially on (defense). Just, God bless us. (Stephens) made a big play. He had to redeem himself after his fumble.”
Stephens fumbled a punt at the Fairfield 35 late in the game, but came up with a big game-ending interception after his TD catch to seal it.
Fairfield grabbed a 14-7 lead on the last play before weather hit on Friday night, but never found a rhythm on Saturday behind backup quarterback Sawiaha Ellis.
Ellis did pick up 66 yards rushing, yet completed only 4-of-9 passes for minus-1 yard and one turnover.
“(Ellis) did a great job for us,” Fairfield coach Jason Krause said. “He gave us a chance. We make a chip shot field goal, we win. You have to make plays when you play good teams and, we didn’t at the end.”
Fairfield starting quarterback Jeff Tyus (10-of-15, 82 yards and a TD) missed the resumption Saturday with a shoulder injury. Tyus’ last play was a 15-yard scoring toss to put the Indians up 14-7 on the final play of Friday’s encounter.
The Indians had a chance to possibly seal the game, but following a long drive after Stephens’ fumble, they missed a 30-yard field goal.
Following an interception, the Indians went three-and-out, punting with two minutes left. Springfield needed only three plays to cover 77 yards to cut the gap to one.
“We continue to give up big plays on the back end,” Krause said. “It seems like they continued to get big plays off scrambles.”
On the two-point conversion, Douglass said it was an easy decision.
“We didn’t have our kicker,” he said. “We had a miscommunication after Friday, and he didn’t make the trip Saturday.”
Fairfield, which got 99 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries from JuTahn McClain, will be at Hamilton next week to begin Greater Miami Conference play.
“It is a rival game,” Krause said. “This one will sting a bit, but guys need to come out Monday and get ready for a big game.”
Springfield will be at Hudson on Friday.
F: JuTahn McClain 66 run (Elgin Phillips kick)
S: Michael Brown-Stephens 61 pass from Te’Sean Smoot (Braeden Carey kick)
F: Dashaun Simpkins 15 pass from Jeff Tyus (Phillips kick)
S: Larry Stephens 35 pass from Raheim Moss (Moss run)