South Haven picked up its fifth victory in a row, Friday, Oct. 1 with a nail-biting 24-22 finish over visiting BCS conference opponent Brandywine to up its league record to an unblemished 4-0.
The win, accomplished in the final minutes of the fourth quarter when the Rams prevented the Bobcats from scoring, gave the Homecoming fans something to cheer about in a game that was well attended by the home crowd.
Friday night's victory was a hard-fought one for the Rams.
“The Bobcats played a great football game,” South Haven coach Mark Eddy said. “They put us in chase mode. Coach Mike Nate had his team ready to compete. They put pressure on us to respond.”
Brandywine got on the scoreboard first with 4:27 left in the first quarter when Ivory McCullough received hand off and ran it in for the touchdown. A successful conversion pass from Blake Krueger to Chase Valade put the Bobcats ahead 8-0.
The Rams responded several minutes later with Trent Till ran the ball 43 yards into the end zone and then followed up with the two-point conversion to tie the score, 8-8, going into the second quarter.
The see-saw game continued into the second quarter with McCullough finding pay dirt. A pass from Krueger to Valade pushed the Bobcats ahead 16-8, a score that held until the end of the first half.
“At the half our kids got composed and refocused themselves,” Eddy said. “We scored on our opening possession to tie up the game.” Till tied the score for the Rams by taking a handoff and running 10 yards into the end zone to earn the Ram touchdown and then ran in the extra two points to tie the score.
The Bobcats weren't done yet. With 3 minutes left in the third Michael Palmer ran 12 yards to find pay dirt, but, Brandywine wasn't able to make the conversion, putting the score at 22-16 in favor of the Bobcats.
They held the lead until early in the fourth when Justin Frazier ran 33 yards for the Rams' third touchdown of the game. Till broke the tie by earning the conversion for South Haven to put the Rams ahead 24-22.
A drive by Brandywine late in the game put a scare into the hometown fans, but the Bobcats lost the ball.. South Haven then held on for the final minutes to win.
The final quarter wasn't easy for the Rams. After pushing ahead 24-22 early in the fourth South Haven had the chance to stretch their lead even further.
“We drove again to the Bobcat 4-yard line, but dropped the ball on second down,” Eddy said. “So, instead of sealing the deal, it remained a contest. After their third TD, I feel we tightened up on defense and remained solid on offense and tipped the scales in our favor.”
The Rams racked up 272 rushing yards in the game, compared to Brandywine's 216. Till led South Haven's ground game with 211 yards, followed by Frazier with 52.
On defense, South Haven's Brady Dannenberg, Jeremy Rowland and Frazier each earned 8 tackles, while Till had 7.
The Rams will travel to Berrien Springs on Friday to face the BCS leading Shamrocks who are undefeated and ranked 8th in the state in Division 5 by the Associated Press.