Fast start lifts Reed City past rival Big Rapids in 39-26 victory

REED CITY — In a heavyweight battle between CSAA rivals, Reed City showed that they're still the class of the league on Thursday with a 39-26 season-opening win over Big Rapids. The Coyotes rode a strong first half where they built up a 33-14 lead and were able to hold off a furious rally from Big Rapids in the fourth quarter to come away with the victory. "Our kids are ecstatic," Reed City coach Monty Price said. "We worked very hard for the first two weeks and had some rough times during camp, but we put it all together (Thursday). I don't know if the final score was as indicative of the game I watched, but we'll take the win regardless." The Coyotes jumped on the score board first with a 31-yard rushing touchdown from Jonathan Green with 9:16 left in the first quarter. Reed City tacked on two more touchdowns in the first quarter with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Chad Samuels to Josh Saez with 3:45 left in the quarter and an 85-yard touchdown scamper from Green with 26 second left in the quarter to take an early 21-0 lead. Green continued his rushing assault on the Cardinals in the second quarter as he broke a 45-yard touchdown run with 7:10 left before the half to push the Coyotes' lead to 28-0. Green had 198 yards rushing and three touchdowns at the half and ended the night with 191 yards on 12 carries, averaging 15.9 yards per carry. "My offensive line did a great job (Thursday)," Green said. "Every play, there wasn't anyone around me. I wouldn't have gotten any of those touchdowns without my linemen." The Cardinals bounced back though with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Ty Lattimore to Jon Spicer with 5:30 left in the half to cut the deficit to 28-7. Reed City answered back with a 70-yard passing touchdown from Samuels to Andre Jones with 4 minutes left in the half, but Big Rapids ended the half with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Lattimore to Spicer with 25 seconds left to head into the break trailing 33-14. After a scoreless third quarter between the two teams, Big Rapids fooled the Coyotes on a 35-yard touchdown pass from running back Robert Green to Spicer with 9:31 left to play to close the gap to 33-20. Reed City once again answered the Cardinals's score with one of their own as Samuels scampered for an 8-yard rushing touchdown with 4:07 left to play to push the Coyotes' lead to 39-20. Samuels finished the day going 8-for-14 for 159 yards and two touchdowns through the air and six rushes for 74 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Big Rapids tacked on one more score on a 44-yard touchdown toss from Lattimore to River Dorman with 2:32 left in regulation, but a failed onside kick attempt left the Coyotes to drain the clock and escape with the victory. Lattimore finished the game completing 11-of-16 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns, all to Spicer, who had six receptions for 67 yards. Big Rapids coach Mitch Cumings said the early errors in the first half ended up being the difference in the end. "We've got to play four quarters against good football teams and we just didn't do that," he said. "We just gave away too many opportunities, made too many mistakes and too many mental errors and it's tought o win football games when you do that. "Sometimes you take a step back and take a look a things and it's all right," he continued. "We played better and more disciplined in terms of tackling and blocking and those little things. We just regrouped and played better football (in the second half)." Despite the final outcome, Cumings said he was proud of the way the Cardinals fought their way back into the game in the second half. "I love these kids," he said. "These are my kids. I'll take them into the foxhole everyday. This is just one of those speed bumps. It's a learning opportunity for us and we have to do better." Big Rapids (0-1, 0-1) next hosts Hesperia next Friday while Reed City (1-0, 1-0) hits the road to face Morley Stanwood that same Friday. REED CITY 39, BIG RAPIDS 26 BR 0 14 0 12 RC 20 13 0 6 First Quarter RC — Jonathan Green 31 run (Dean Eichenberg kick), 9:16 RC — Chad Samuels 15 pass to Josh Saez (Dean Eichenberg kick), 3:45 RC — Green 85 run (kick failed), 0:26 Second Quarter RC — Green 49 run (Dean Eichenberg kick), 7:10 BR — Ty Lattimore 12 pass to Jon Spicer (Lattimore pass to Spicer for 2-pt conversion), 5:53 RC — Samuels 70 pass to Andre Jones (kick failed), 4:00 BR — Lattimore 9 pass to Spicer (pass failed), 0:25 Fourth Quarter BR — Robert Green 35 pass to Spicer (pass failed), 9:31 RC — Samuels 8 run (kick failed), 4:07 BR — Lattimore 44 pass to River Dorman (pass failed), 2:32 Rushing: Reed City 42-340 (Green 12-191, Jones 11-46, Samuels 6-74, Collin Hatfield 8-25). Big Rapids 31-109 (Green 14-72, Lattimore 11-33, Austin Hayes 2-6). Passing: Reed City 8-14 (Samuels 8-14-2-159). Big Rapids 12-17 (Lattimore 11-16-3-1-143, Green 1-1-1-35). Receiving: Reed City — Jones 3-83, Saez 2-29, Green 1-37, Kyle Wright 1-9. Big Rapids -- Spicer 6-67, Dorman 3-57, Green 1-9, Eric Boyd, 1-41, Mike Tassoni 1-4.