BEAVER SPRINGS — Midd-West coach Brad Hatter had a decision to make nearly midway through the fourth quarter Saturday.
The Mustangs had scored to pull within a point of Springfield Township, but with regular kicker Carter Sauer in street clothes, and momentum on their side, Hatter opted to go for the two-point conversion and the lead.
“I think we felt we had some momentum,” Hatter said. “I felt if we could get it, we could change some their play calling the rest of the game.”
Unfortunately, the Spartans intercepted the pass, and Midd-West never got the ball back as Springfield Township knocked off the Mustangs, 20-19, at West Snyder Elementary School.
“We needed this bad. This is exactly why we wanted to make the trip up here,” Springfield Township coach Charlie Carabba said. “We want to become a playoff team, and we needed this type of game.”
Coming out of the halftime with the Spartans leading 14-13, Midd-West had two drives deep into Springfield Township territory in the third quarter. The first was stopped on a fourth-and-5 from the Springfield 15; the second ended on an interception by Springfield Township middle linebacker Keith Grantland.
A personal foul call on that interception pushed the Spartans back to their own 11, but two plays later, quarterback Gabe Franczyk busted loose for an 84-yard touchdown on a designed run to give Springfield Township a 20-13 lead. The Mustangs remained in the game when the extra point failed with 10:15 left in the game.
“They were really pinching us with their defensive ends, so they weren’t giving us what we wanted,” Carabba said of the Midd-West defense that put consistent pressure on the Spartans’ roll-out passing game. “We ran some more QB run game that we planned. We call it ‘plus one.’ We want to have an extra guy in the box (for blocking).”
Gabe Franczyk finished with 183 yards and two scores on 20 carries for the Spartans (2-1).
“We did have some stops, but we didn’t make enough plays. They ran some misdirection on us. We’ve got to be better at that kind of stuff,” Hatter said. “We have to get better at playing disciplined defense.
“That comes back on me.”
Midd-West (1-2) had an answer though. Gabe Regester returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards, but was called for a facemask on a stiff arm at the end of the run. It still gave the Mustangs good field position at their own 44. The Mustangs went 66 yards in nine plays, capped by Oakley Bennett finding Hunter Wolfley for a 10-yard TD with 6:01 left in the game. Bennett (13-of-18 for 142 yards, 2 TDs) was 4-of-4 on the drive.
After the two-point conversion failed, the Mustangs still had two timeouts left, but the Spartans put together a nine-play drive to ice the clock. The key play came on a fourth-and-7 from the Midd-West 27.
Midd-West called a timeout before the play and the Spartans lined up in the swinging gate formation, but were forced to call a timeout of their own. Finally, Gabe Franczyk hit his brother Jude for a 17-yard gain to clinch the game.
Neither team scored until Midd-West took the lead on the final play of the first quarter. Brayden Swineford tipped a Gabe Franczyk pass that Thanye Treaster intercepted and return 30 yards to the Springfield Township 30.
On the next play, Joe Rodriguez broke free up the middle for a 30-yard TD run and a 7-0 lead at the first-quarter buzzer.
Springfield Township answered on its next two drives getting a 1-yard TD pass from Gabe Franczyk to Cam Dennis with 8:20 left in the half. Dennis finished with 11 catches, mostly coming on jet sweep action where Gabe Franczyk would flip it forward to him. Then after a Midd-West three-and-out, Franczyk ran 20 yards for a touchdown for a 14-7 lead with 4:47 left in the first half.
Midd-West answered right before the half, converting three third downs on the drive. The Mustangs converted a third-and-10 with a 29-yard pass to Wolfley before the junior scored on the next play on a 12-yard reception to cut the lead to 14-13. The Mustangs went into halftime trailing by one as the snap on the extra point went over the holder’s head.
SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP 20, MIDD-WEST 19
Springfield (2-1)`0`14`0`6 — 20
Midd-West (1-2)`7`6`0`6 — 19
MW-Joe Rodriguez 30 run (Ethan Schlief kick)
ST-Cam Dennis 1 pass from Gabe Franczyk (Evan Hincapie kick)
ST-Gabe Franczyk 20 run (Hincapie kick)
MW-Hunter Wolfley 12 pass from Oakley Bennett (run failed)
ST-Franczyk 84 run (kick failed)
MW-Wolfley 10 pass from Bennett (pass failed)
RUSHING — Springfield Township: Gabe Franczyk 20-183, 2 TDs; JP McGowan 4-35; Cam Dennis 2-15; Kashi Ashantee 1-3. Midd-West: Hunter Wolfley 13-78; Joe Rodrgiuez 9-37, TD; Trey Lauver 8-28; Oakley Bennett 6-11.
PASSING — Springfield Township: Franczyk 18-26-1 for 206 yards, TD. Midd-West: Bennett 13-18-1 for 142 yards, 2 TDs.
RECEIVING — Springfield Township: Dennis 11-104, TD; Jude Franczyk 3-62; Brennan Fluehr 2-25; McGowan 1-11; Ashantee 1-5. Midd-West: Wolfely 4-55, 2 TDs; Lauver 4-48; Gabe Regester 2-15; Eli Swan 2-12; Rodriguez 1-12.