Reed City earns sixth straight football win over Big Rapids

BIG RAPIDS — Reed City’s potent offense helped the Coyotes stake out to a 5-0 start, scoring 46 points per game.

On Friday, it was the defense that keyed the Coyotes’ 22-7 Central State Activities Association Gold Division win over host Big Rapids.  

They forced three turnovers and held the Cardinals (3-1, 4-2) to 144 yards of offense.

“Turnovers are everything,” Reed City coach Monty Price said. “Statistics show, if you win the turnover battle, you have a good shot to win the game, so it certainly played a key part in the outcome of this one.

 “Make no mistakes about it, our defense is pretty good.”

Reed City clinched a playoff berth, improving to 6-0 overall and 4-0 CSAA.

“It’s a big win, but the rest is immaterial,” Price said. “It’s just another football game. We’re just focused on getting kids healthy, getting ready for Central Montcalm next week.”

 The Cardinals struck first, capitalizing on a Reed City turnover on the Coyotes’ first drive. One play after senior running back Andre Jones fumbled, Big Rapids quarterback Braeden Childress connected with senior Mekhi Urban for a 13-yard touchdown. The pass was intended for another receiver but deflected off a Reed City defender and into Urban’s arms.

Logan Straub gave Reed City an 8-7 lead at the 8:37 mark of the second quarter with three big plays in a row. He intercepted Childress to give the Coyotes first-and-goal at the 10, and then plunged into the end zone on the next play. He also rushed for the two-point conversion.

“It was a big key in this game,” Straub said. “We stopped the run, and when we stop the run, you have to pass on us.”

Big Rapids stopped Reed City on its first drive of the second half, but gave the ball right back.

The Coyotes recovered a fumble on the Cardinals’ 25 with 6:39 left in the third quarter, and on the next play, quarterback Leland Yonkin hit Jones for a 25-yard touchdown pass and a 16-7 lead.

“We were using this as a measuring stick and I thought we measure up pretty well,” Big Rapids coach Mike Selzer said. “We just have to limit the mistakes. Their first two scores, those were off our own turnovers in our own red zone.”

The Coyotes added another touchdown with 1:37 to go in the fourth quarter – an 11-yard pass from Yonkin to Schulyer Smith.

Jones had a team-high 121 rushing yards, while Straub ran for 55. DeSaun Griffin led the Cardinals with 49 rushing yards.

Penalties played a big role for both teams.  Midway through the fourth quarter, Big Rapids senior Zach Baldwin had a 53-yard run to the Reed City 4-yard line, but a holding call negated the gain and Childress threw an interception on the next play.

 A holding call also proved costly for the Coyotes late in the first half.

Smith hauled in a 38-yard catch down to the Cardinals’ 4, but it was called back.