2017-10-12 / Sports


By Mike Gallagher
Sports Reporter • mgallagher@mihomepaper.com

Mason Lackie, a senior offensive and defensive lineman for Caseville jumps for joy after the Eagles finished off their victory over Akron-Fairgrove 42-40. 
Photo by Mike Gallagher Mason Lackie, a senior offensive and defensive lineman for Caseville jumps for joy after the Eagles finished off their victory over Akron-Fairgrove 42-40. Photo by Mike Gallagher CASEVILLE - After losing their first three games of the season, and forfeiting their next three, the Caseville football team returned to the field Friday and earned an exciting 42-40 victory over Akron-Fairgrove, snapping a nine game losing streak.

The game did not start out well for the Eagles, as Viking running back Hunter Ruppal scored on a 51 yard touchdown run to open the game.

“To be honest I was thinking we better get our heads on,” said Caseville head coach Craig Newton. “We just told our kids to keep their heads up and take it one play at a time.”

The Eagles did just that, as senior Joe Ales finished off an 11 play, 49 yard drive with a three yard touchdown run to tie the game 6-6 with 7:07 remaining in the first quarter.

The Eagle defense would stop Akron- Fairgrove on their next possession, and the Eagle offense proceeded to take a 12-6 lead on a 52 yard touchdown by junior running back Chance Shippey.

After the Shippey touchdown, the Vikings started to take control of the game.

Ruppal scored his second touchdown of the game and converted on the 2-point conversion to give Akron- Fairgrove the lead, 14-12.

The Vikings then recovered an onside kick and Ruppal scored again, giving Akron-Fairgrove a 20-12 lead with 10:00 left in the first half.

Caseville drove all the way to the Viking six yard line, but a mishandled snap gave Akron-Fairgrove the ball back, giving them a chance to extend their lead to double-digits before the half.

But three plays into the Viking drive, Ales came up with an interception, giving the Eagles the ball back on the Akron-Fairgrove 29 yard line. Shippey would take advantage of the good field position, scoring from six yards out for his second touchdown of the game. Shippey converted the 2-point conversion as well, tying the game at 20-20 before halftime.

“Joe makes plays, that’s what he does,” said Newton of the Ales interception. “He saw it, read it, and ran. You don’t plan on plays like those, so that was huge for us.”

The score would remain 20-20 until the middle of the third quarter, when Akron-Fairgrove running back Garrett Reder punched it in from two yards out.

That was when Newton talked to his team about “falling or rising mentally.”

“The momentum had shifted,” said Newton. “We had talked about can you rise to the occasion when it gets tough. I think the kids rose.”

Caseville would go on to outscore the Vikings 22-12 in the final 17:32 of the game.

Akron-Fairgrove took a 34-28 lead with 56.6 seconds left in the third quarter, but on the first play of the fourth quarter Shippey threw a touchdown pass to Brandon Lecznar to retake the lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, Caseville sophomore Noah Nelson recovered a Viking fumble, and Shippey threw another touchdown on the first play of the drive, this time a 51 yard pass to a wide open Ales.

Akron-Fairgrove would score on a 17 yard Ruppal run with 5:38 remaining in the game, but failed on the 2-point conversion, putting the score at 42-40.

On the final Viking possession of the game, Caseville defensive end Tom King sealed the victory for the Eagles, stopping Akron-Fairgrove in the backfield on three straight plays.

The win was the first for Caseville since September 30th of last season, and their first victory at home since September 25th of the 2015 season.

“I’m happy for the team, the kids, the staff, the school, and just this program in general,” said Newton. “The kids just keep working, and there’s good things to come.”

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