By Sean Budlong
For most of the night, Schoolcraft’s Ricky Clark and Nolan Anspaugh seemed to stay one step ahead of Constantine’s Anthony Evilsizor. However, it was the play of Collin Tone and Ben Crofoot that made the difference in Schoolcraft’s 40-28 victory in the first round of the state playoffs. “It was heart and pride,” explained senior Thomas Meadows. It was also two touchdown runs by Clark and three touchdown receptions for Anspaugh – from Clark). And Tone and Crofoot’s defensive gems to stop back-to-back Constantine drives in the fourth quarter.
Constantine scored the game’s first touchdown on an Evilsizor run with 3:36 left in the first quarter. Forty seconds later, after a great catch and run by the Eagles’ Blake Bales, Spencer Fox took a Clark pass 39 yards for the score. A botched extra point left the Eagles down 7-6. Three minutes into the second quarter, Schoolcraft struck again on a Clark one-yard touchdown run set up by a 52-yard run by Jack Hunt. A missed two-point conversion left the Eagles up 12-7.
The first time Anspaugh touched the ball on offense was with 7:11 left in the first half – and he took a Clark pass 43 yards to the end zone. The Clark to Anspaugh connection also secured the two-point conversion. Evilsizor scored again with 29 seconds left in the half to cut the Schoolcraft lead to 20-14.
A five-minute scoring drive to open the second half gave the Falcons a 21-20 lead. Forty seconds later, Anspaugh had his second catch, and second touchdown. Bales caught a Clark pass for the two-point conversion and it was back to an Eagle lead, 28-21. Constantine held the ball for eight minutes before Michael Reese scored to tie the game.
“We knew when they tied the game that we had to play with more intensity and physicality,” Crofoot said. Schoolcraft did just that for the remaining ten minutes of the game. Hunt and Clark fought for yards on the ground, while Crofoot, Fox, and Anspaugh found open spots for short passes. Clark’s five-yard touchdown run gave the Eagles the lead for good, and Anspaugh’s third touchdown reception capped the scoring.
While both teams seemed to move the ball at will all night, it was Schoolcraft’s defense that made the plays in the fourth quarter. Tone made the biggest stop of the night when he threw Evilsizor for a three-yard loss on fourth and two with five minutes left. With one last chance to pull within a touchdown, Crofoot closed on a Falcon receiver to knock a pass down to end Constantine’s last offensive series.
“I’ll remember this game for the rest of my life,” Fox said. “We played together and just did our jobs.” Fox, Meadows, Tone, Payton Hoskins and Scott Macfarlane were outstanding when the Eagles needed them on defense. After winning the toughest game of the season to advance to 10-0 and the second round of the playoffs, Schoolcraft will need to show even more toughness to continue their season against Jackson Lumen Christy next Friday.