ST. JOSEPH — Berrien Springs finished the regular season at 8-0 here Friday night, but not before Benton Harbor gave the Shamrocks a huge scare.
Trailing the determined Tigers, who were playing for a playoff spot, 6-0 at halftime, the Shamrocks blanked Benton Harbor in the last half for a 10-6 non-league victory. It was Berrien’s first undefeated regular season since 2004.
“We knew it was going to be physical, as it was just two great defensive teams slugging it out,” said Shamrocks coach Bill Bergan, whose team won despite committing seven turnovers including six interceptions and a lost fumble. Berrien was also penalized 10 times for 70 yards.
“If we get behind the chains we’re not going to beat anybody in the playoffs,” added Bergan, who lost his starting quarterback Nick Nelson and top runningback Danny Vinson in the third quarter to minor injuries.
“I expect both of them to be back for the playoffs,” noted Bergan, who starts nine players on both sides of the ball. Bergan added his squad, in all probability, will play Olivet next weekend at Dickinson Stadium.
The loss was a tough pill for Benton Harbor to swallow.
“We played hard but you have to take advantage of your opportunities, which we didn’t do,” said Tom Matthews, Tigers coach. “Our defense did what it could, but we really didn’t have good field positioon out of all their turnovers. But the kids played hard. We’ve had a lot of adversity the last few weeks, but the kids stuck together and I’m looking forward to next year.”
“Tonight’s loss was disappointing, but we learn from these disappointments and become better men,” noted Mattews, whose squad ended 4-5.
Benton Harbor took a 6-0 lead in the opening quarter on a 20-yard scamper by quarterback Quindarius Davis, who also came up with four interceptions on defense.
But late in the third Vinson rumbled around left end for a 6-yards TD, and Faith Kittleson’s PAT boot gave the Shamrocks a 7-6 lead.
Then early in the fourth Kittleson booted a 24-yard field goal.
Vinson who was hurt late in the third, after gaining 80 yards on 16 carries, was replaced by Marshall McFarland, who wound up with 133 yards rushing on 20 lugs, as Berrien worked the clock with that 10-6 lead.
“(McFarland is) our utility guy who does everything for us. And he really came through in the clutch for us tonight,” praised Bergan.
When asked if he thought at the beginning of the season if this team would go undefeated, Bergan replied: “To be honest, no. With only 23 guys the thought never entered my mind. But it’s a credit to these kids.”
Benton Harbor managed 111 net yards from scrimmage in the first half, but only could muster 29 in the second half, including one first down in the last half.
Meanwhile, Berrien Springs totaled 298 net yards, including 13 first downs to the Tigers’ four.
Berrien Springs 10, Benton Harbor 6
Benton Harbor 6 0 0 0 - 6
Berrien Springs 0 0 7 3 - 10
Frist downs 4 13
Total net yards 140 298
Rushing yards 82 249
Passing yards 58 49
Comp-Att-Int 3-10-2 4-15-6
Fumbles-lost 3-2 2-1
Penalties-yards 7-50 10-70
Top Individual Statistics
Rushing - BH: Davis 10-50. BSp: McFarland 20-133, Vinson 16-80.
Passing - BH: Davis 3-10-2-58. BSp: Tyler Ewalt 4-10-4-49.
Receiving - BH: Louis Johnson 1-39. BSp: Anthomnu Latin 1-31.
Records — Benton Harbor 4-5, Berrien Springs 8-0.