By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg varsity football team’s record dropped to 5-3 after a devastating 24-20 loss to the Dowagiac Chieftains at home.
The Bulldogs recovered a Dowagiac fumble on their opening drive and then marched down the field in 11 plays. The final play of the drive was a perfectly placed pass from Jacob Conklin to Lucas Hatridge in the middle of the endzone. The extra point made it 7-0 early.
Vicksburg forced a punt on the Chieftains’ next possession and had a long drive downfield, eating up clock. But the drive stalled deep in Dowagiac territory at the eight-yard line. The Bulldogs attempted a field goal, but it was blocked and turned upfield by a Chieftain defender who carried it back into Vicksburg territory before Conklin stopped him.
Dowagiac took advantage of the big play and scored on a 13-yard quarterback keeper shortly after. Vicksburg’s next drive stalled; Dowagiac took over deep in their own territory, but a receiver broke free for a 90-yard touchdown to make things 12-7. The two-point PAT failed and that was the score going into the half.
The Bulldogs fumbled the ball away on the second half kickoff. But the team made a huge defensive stand thanks in large part to a huge sack by Stephen McCowen. On their next possession, Vicksburg went on a long scoring drive that was capped off by Conklin fitting a pass into a tight window to Hatridge again in the back of the endzone. The score came on a fourth down with four yards to go. The two-point PAT attempt was no good.
Vicksburg scored again on a three-yard Conklin keeper. The PAT made it 20-12 with just under 10 minutes left in the game. The Bulldogs forced a punt and on their next possession, Conklin hit Chase Myers with a deep pass that was stripped away and recovered by the Chieftains.
Dowagiac went on a long scoring drive and eventually scored on a botched play where the Chieftain running back was able to pick up a fumble and run it in anyway with 47 seconds left in the game. The failed two-point attempt made it 20-18.
The heartbreaker came on the subsequent onside kick attempt. Dowagiac not only recovered the attempt, but the team recovered it deep in Bulldog territory. A few plays later, the Chieftains quarterback hit a receiver in the endzone for the game-winning score.