Reed City survives Chippewa Hills in another football thriller

RUN IT OUT: Phillip Jones (28) runs the ball up the field during the Coyotes’ 34-28 victory over Chippewa Hills on Friday in the Division 5 district final game.  (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

RUN IT OUT: Phillip Jones (28) runs the ball up the field during the Coyotes’ 34-28 victory over Chippewa Hills on Friday in the Division 5 district final game. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

REED CITY — It was another dramatic Chippewa Hills-Reed City football game.

But for the eighth-straight time, the Coyotes prevailed over the Warriors with a 34-28 victory in the Division 5 district championship game on Friday.

Derrick Rasor threw a 29-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to Trent Sturgell for the winning points with three minutes to play.

Reed City (11-0) will face the winner of Saturday’s Grayling vs. Menominee game in a regional title contest that the Coyotes will host either next Friday or Saturday.

Chippewa Hills (9-2) ends its season.

After Sturgell’s dramatic catch, the Warriors drove down the field and scored on what appeared to be a tying touchdown pass from Cade Schafer to DJ Lowery.

Since the Coyotes had missed the extra point and had only a six-point lead, the Warriors may have been in the position to win. But an illegal procedure penalty nullified the score and the Warriors moments later failed to complete a fourth-down pass, allowing Reed City to run out the clock.

“We came down and executed at the last minute,” Coyote running back Phillip Jones said. “It feels great.”

“We had some very untimely penalties that were a huge factor in the game,” Chippewa Hills coach Larry Jose said. “It was the most physical game I’ve ever been involved in both sides of the ball. We knew it would be like that coming in.”

Three David Spedowski rushing touchdowns lifted the Warriors to a 21-14 halftime lead. The Warriors scored from 4 yards out on Chippewa Hills’ first drive of the game. Reed City came back with a 2-yard scoring run by Zach Wirgau, in the first quarter for a 7-7 tie, followed by  Rasor’s 4-yard quarterback keeper on the first play of the second for a 14-7 lead. Schafer passed 21 yards to Kurt Ray to set up a 1-yard run by Spedowski later in the second quarter for a 14-14 tie. A Reed City punt pinned the Warriors at their own 1-yard line late in the first half. 

But the Warriors drove 99 yards to paydirt.

Spedowski got a key first-down run to the 12 on third down to keep the drive going. The Warriors drove down the field, scoring on Spedowski’s 15-yard scamper for the 21-14 intermission lead.

“Our coaches picked our heads up and we did what we had to do coming out at halftime,” Jones said.

Rasor’s 3-yard run late in the third quarter tied the game 21-21. Reed City continued to run the ball well and scored early in the fourth on Lowery’s 1-yard run for a 28-21 lead. The Coyote retaliated with a scoring drive and Straub’s 4-yard run tied the game.

Reed City got the ball back at the Warrior 29 after a 6-yard Chippewa Hills punt to set up the go-ahead touchdown.

“We almost had a sack on that,” Jose said of the winning touchdown pass. “In close games like this, every little thing matters.”

Sturgell just kept his foot in bounds to make the catch.

“We’ve been working on that play for three weeks now,” Reed City coach Monty Price said. “That’s the first time we ran that play. I told the kids in practice we were saving it for a special time. Sometimes you have to get lucky. Trent made one heckuva catch. We’ll take it.”

Spedowski gained 271 yards on 35 carries while Devon Mulder added 70 yards and Schafer passed for 69. Kurt Ray had 11 tackles, and Seth McKenzie 10.

“We just couldn’t stop them,” Price said. “Spedowski was tough. Their front seven was making holes, hats off to them.”

For Reed City, Jones ran for 112 yards, Straub for 99 and Rasor for 92.

“We knew we had to be more physical and disciplined than they were,” Jose said. “It was a great game.”

Reed City edged Chippewa Hills 12-8 late in the regular season and would go on to win the Central State Activities Association Gold Division title.

Two years ago, Reed City beat the Warriors twice including in the district finals.

The Coyotes have won a conference and district title in the same season for the first time.

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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