Coyotes stay undefeated with narrow win over Chippewa Hills

Undefeated: Phillip Jones looks for running room against Chippewa Hills. (Herald-Review photo/John Raffel)
Undefeated: Phillip Jones looks for running room against Chippewa Hills. (Herald-Review photo/John Raffel)

REMUS — Players and coaches on Reed City’s and Chippewa Hills’ sidelines held their breaths as the referees called for a measurement after a fourth-and-6 play late in the fourth quarter.

When a first down was signaled, it was the Coyotes’ sideline that erupted.

Logan Straub picked up the first down by inches, and two plays later, he bulldozed into the end zone from a yard out to give Reed City a 12-8 lead with just over three minutes remaining.

 The Warriors had two more possessions with a chance to take the lead, but Brandon Evans and Phillip Jones each had an interception to close out the Coyotes’ 15th straight Central State Activities Association victory.

“It was unexplainable,” Reed City coach Monty Price of the team’s sideline after getting that key first down. “Our kids just have a lot of grit. Chip had us and could have put us away, but our kids had a lot of grit. They fight like crazy. I knew they would get up to the challenge. That is a dang good Chippewa Hills football team, but great teams rise to the occasion, and our guys did.”

Straub’s touchdown run capped a 21-play, 11-minute drive that began in the third quarter at the Coyotes’ 20.

Chippewa Hills (5-1, 4-1 CSAA Gold) drove down to the Reed City 19 on the ensuing drive, but Evans picked off a Cade Schafer pass in the end zone for a touchback with just over two minutes to play.

 Reed City (6-0, 5-0), however, fumbled on the next play and Chippewa Hills recovered on the Coyotes’ 20. Phillips, though, intercepted a DJ Lowery pass two plays later and Reed City was able to run out the clock.

“That was huge,” Straub said of the interceptions, “absolutely huge. “That is what won us the game right there. The defense locked down and we pulled it off.”

Chippewa Hills’ offense struggled to sustain any drives throughout the game in a constant rain. It also did not get many opportunities, with Reed City having two drives that lasting more than 10 minutes.

 “This is one I have to go back and watch film,” Chippewa Hills coach Larry Jose said. “I think our mistakes early on — some mental and some physical offensively — definitely just threw us off. Credit goes to them being able to keep the ball 9-10 minutes at a time per drive and do what they do.

“At one point, we had four plays of offense halfway through the second quarter. It’s hard to get in a rhythm, and that is what reed city does. We had our opportunities and we just didn’t get it done.”

 A fumble recovery led to the Warriors’ lone touchdown late in the third quarter. They took over on Reed City’s 43 and drove to the 14 on six straight carries by David Spedowski. An 8-yard pass from Schafer to Spencer Mackenzie on fourth-and-2 bookended the drive.

 Straub opened the scoring on a 41-yard touchdown run at the 6:06 mark of the second quarter. He finished with 141 yards and 24 carries.

The Coyotes are in the driver’s seat for a sixth straight conference title.

“We just beat a heck of a football team,” Price said. “I think that speaks volumes about our kids. We are going to celebrate tonight, have fun on the weekend and try and get a little bit healthy. This doesn’t make our season, we still have to get back to work and figure out a way to beat Big Rapids.”

Jose said Friday’s game will make the Warriors better.

“Every game, even if you lose or don’t do well, it exposes your weaknesses,” he said. “You go back and you fix them. Sometimes its personnel, sometimes its execution, sometimes it’s your gameplan. We have the opportunity to possibly play them again in a few weeks (in the playoffs), and I hope that happens.”

Big Rapids plays this Friday at Reed City for the Coyotes’ homecoming.

Big Rapids has won scored two straight touchdowns in the fourth quarter to defeat Central Montcalm 24-18 on Friday. The Hornets returned an interceptions for a score early in the fourth quarter for a 16-8 lead, but Dorian Martin had touchdown runs of 28 and 4 yards to give the Cardinals their third win of the season. Martin ran for 209 yards and three scores, while Avery Montgomery had 92 yards on 19 carries.