“When you get a turnover, it’s huge, but when you get a turnover and a score, it’s unbelievable.”
Springfield coach Sean Guerriero
By ERIC HAMILTON
NORTH LIMA — The last time the Springfield High football team beat rival South Range, senior Dylan DeJane was just a 10-year-old kid who didn’t even pay attention to the game.
Seven years later, he became the focal point.
DeJane’s 40-yard fumble return, followed by another Springfield touchdown 1:30 later, led the Tigers to a 21-9 victory over the Raiders — Springfield’s first since 2002.
“It’s great to bring that tradition back to Springfield,” said DeJane. “It’s exciting to beat a rival like South Range. We’ve stepped up and worked hard, but you can’t overlook anyone in our league.”
The senior’s big play came with Springfield trailing 9-7 early in the fourth and in need of a spark.
On second-and-13, South Range called a running play that Springfield’s defense read perfectly. While a gang of Tigers went for the tackle, DeJane wrestled the ball free and sprinted 40 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
“We practice that every week,” said DeJane. “My teammates did a good job of holding him up and I saw the ball out there, so I just stripped it and went for the end zone.”
That touchdown and a two-point conversion run by quarterback Brad Ferraro gave Springfield 15-9 advantage with 9:49 left in the contest.
DeJane’s defensive strategy proved contagious. On the ensuing kickoff return, the Tigers again stripped a South Range runner of the football and gave the offense prime field position at the Raiders’ 15.
A South Range penalty and three plays later, Jim Zubick scored from 2 yards out to complete the momentum swing and make it a two-touchdown game.
“Our defense got two stops with South Range in the red zone and came up with the two strips there to change the game,” said Springfield (4-1, 2-0 ITCL Tier 1) coach Sean Guerriero. “When you get a turnover, it’s huge, but when you get a turnover and a score, it’s unbelievable.
“We got that score, then the ball back on that kickoff and the momentum just rolled right into our favor. We were just able to capitalize on the turnovers at the right time.”
The first half score stood at 9-7, but not because it was a defensive battle. Each team moved the ball well and scored on their first offensive possessions.
South Range (1-4, 0-2) began the game with a nine-play, 66-yard scoring drive capped by a 30-yard scoring strike from Vince Miller to Phillip Arsuffi. The point-after kick failed.
Springfield responded with a 61‚Ñ2-minute drive, marching 72 yards in 15 plays. Zubick did the bulk of the work, carrying the ball 11 times. He tied the game at 6-all with a 4-yard score at the 2:04 mark of the first quarter.
The extra point from Alexis Zubick was true and gave the Tigers a 7-6 advantage.
South Range seized the lead on its second series of the game, driving to the Springfield 3, before settling for a 20-yard field goal from Ethan Witmer.
“I told Dan [Yeagley] before the game that with the dominance they’ve had the last few years that he should let us win this one tonight,” said Guerriero. “But all kidding aside, he always has his kids ready to play. This was a big win for us, especially coming down here and winning at their place. But in our league, you can’t take a game off, because if you make any mistakes, whoever you’re playing is going to take advantage of them.”