The Springfield Wildcats survived. On a wet Friday night that began with hail, they didn’t play their best game at Beavercreek High School’s Frank Zink Field — or anything close to it — but they head to the final two weeks of the regular season in control of their own destiny when it comes to earning a playoff berth.
“It was ugly,” Springfield coach Maurice Douglass said. “We just want to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s by one or by 50. We won. That’s the only thing that’s good about it.”
» GAME PHOTOS: Springfield vs. Beavercreek
The Wildcats built a 14-0 halftime lead on touchdown runs by Jeff Tolliver and Tavion Smoot and hung on as the Beavers rallied, clinching a 21-14 victory by recovering an onside kick in the final minutes.
Smoot led Springfield’s offense with 122 yards on 15 carries. Raheim Moss, who didn’t play in the first half, completed 3 of 8 passes for 25 yards and lost 27 yards on five carries, but his 6-yard touchdown run, which extended the lead to 21-7 with 3:04 remaining in the game, proved to be the difference.
The Wildcats (7-1) bounced back from a 25-7 loss at Northmont in Week 7. That was their first loss after the first 6-0 start since the new high school opened in 2008. Springfield ranks fourth in Division I, Region 3 with home games against No. 8 Wayne (5-2, 3-0) and No. 6 Fairmont (6-2, 1-1) in the final two weeks. The Wildcats are 2-0, a half game behind Wayne, in the Great Western Ohio Conference National East Division.
“We had a good week of practice,” Douglass said. “We had a couple of guys who didn’t get to play the first half. We had some new guys out there. They were young guys. You get what you get.”
Two turnovers hurt Beavercreek in the first half, and Springfield committed two turnovers in the second half. An interception led to Beavercreek’s first touchdown with 6:46 left in the third. Offensive lineman Justin Knipper fell on a fumble by a teammate in the end zone to cut Springfield’s lead to 14-7.
Beavercreek missed a 25-yard field goal with 2:59 left in the third and, after a fumble by Springfield, was stopped on 4th-and-20 with 8:21 left in the third as it tried to cut further in Springfield’s lead.
“I was very disappointed (in the turnovers),” Douglass said. “It shouldn’t have been that close. We should have won the turnover battle.”
Nicholas Brown, who threw for 122 yards and rushed for 31 yards, threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Sabastian Rendon with 1:22 to play to give the Beavers one last hope, but Beavercreek (1-7, 0-3) lost its fifth straight game and lost to Springfield for the third straight season.
“We had a bunch of balls go through our hands, opportunities that would have been huge plays,” Beavercreek coach Nic Black said. “It’s a little bit wet, a little bit cold, the first time this year we’ve had some of that. But last week we had some big play-action shots against Wayne. We’ve got talented young receivers, and with the running game, the way it has gone, it allows us to take those shots. The big deal tonight was we came out and played on defense the way we haven’t been playing the last three years. We just haven’t seen that fro this group yet until tonight. They played super hard defensively.”