A battle for playoff positioning took place in Indianapolis Saturday night as the Foxes traveled to take on the Indiana Mustangs. Both teams came into the contest 4-1 in MSFL play, and looking to better position themselves for the playoffs, which start in just two weeks.
As the game began, it appeared as though it would be a long night for the visiting Foxes 7-1 (5-1) as the Mustangs took the opening drive and used the running game to go ahead 7-0. On the Foxes opening drive, they would go to the ground game, even without leading rusher Courtney Molten in the lineup. Carleston Acres, 73 yards on 10 carries, would get the football early, and fumble after it appeared he was down by contact. The Mustangs would return it back to the Foxes 1 yard line, setting up their next score, to go ahead 13-0 after the failed extra point.
As the second quarter began, the Foxes would march down the field and cap the drive with a 5 yard by quarterback Drew Fendrich. Following the PAT, the Foxes would pull to within 6. The momentum appeared to be shifting as the Foxes defense would stop the Mustangs and give the ball back to Fendrich and the offense. The momentum would shift once again as the Mustangs picked off a Fendrich pass and returned it to the end zone, pulling ahead 20-7, trying to break the Foxes spirit. The Foxes would use that score as a rallying point for the remainder of the game. Lance Still would pick off a Mustang pass, giving the ball back to the Foxes offense. The Foxes would turn that into a score with a touchdown pass from Fendrich to Chris Hampton for 30 yards, pulling the Foxes within 5, down 20-15 after the 2 point conversion toss from David Bricker to Jamel Ward. The score heading into the locker room would be 20-15.
As the second half began, there was little doubt as to which team wanted to win this game more. The connection that everyone has seen a lot of this year, Fendrich to Hampton, would help put this game away. The Foxes started the half off with the ball, and Fendrich would once again hook up with Chris Hampton for a 27 yard score, after the failed PAT, the Foxes would be up 21-20. The Foxes defense would get on the field and after some penalties, would have the Mustangs backed up against their own goal line. Darion Phiffer would come up big and record the safety, giving the Foxes a 23-20 lead. After the free kick following the safety, the Foxes would go to the ground for the next touchdown. Darin Utley, who finished with 115 yards on 11 carries, would punch the ball in from the 3 yard line, giving the Foxes some breathing room after the PAT, 30-20.The Mustangs would keep it close, running the ensuing kickoff back 90 yards for a touchdown, after hitting on the 2 point conversion, the Mustangs pulled within 30-28. Again, the momentum looked to have jumped from the one team to another, until Drew Fendrich would find Chris Hampton for yet another score, this one from 38 yards out. The Foxes would miss the extra point, but remain ahead 36-28 as the 3rd quarter came to a close.
In the fourth quarter, the defense would finish off the Mustangs, as the offense would tack on yet another touchdown to the final score. LB Craig Rolfe would pick off the Mustangs and return it 46 yards, giving the ball back to the offense, but the foxes would be forced to punt. The Mustangs, after the Foxes punt, would once again be backed up against their own goal line. The Foxes, having the Mustangs pinned deep, went for the kill. Defensive back Garland Walton would record a sack and the safety, putting the Foxes up 38-28 with just minutes left in the game. After the
Mustang's second free kick following a safety, the Foxes would go to the ground game to get them inside the Mustang 40 yard line. Fendrich would take one more shot to the end zone, finding Rick Packingham for a 36 yard score, after the PAT the scoreboard would show the Foxes up 45-28.
While getting behind 20-15 was something this years Foxes had not experienced, some would say it was a good test with a great response. "Saturday night was a true test to the character of our team." said Head Coach Jon Roe, who was pleased with the second half performance. Assistant coach Jason Kirkendoll added "Our special teams gave up too many yards this week, but the other two facets of the game stepped up."
The Foxes defense was led by Darion Phiffer's 8 tackles, Eric Pugh and Garland Walton both recorded sacks, while Lance Still and Craig Rolfe each had an interception. On the offensive side, Drew Fendrich finished 12-22 for 290 yards and 4 touchdowns to 1 interception. Darin Utley, 115 yards and 1 touchdown, would lead the Foxes ground attack. Leading the receiving corp would once again be Chris Hampton with 4 catches for 110 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Foxes return home to John B. Pacotti Field in Kincaid this Saturday night as they take on the Thunder from Chicago. This is more than just another regular season game as the winner of this contest will be crowned the Northeast Division Champion and secure home field advantage throughout the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Coverage for the Springfield Foxes next game against the Chicago Thunder on Saturday will begin at 6:45 pm on Genuine Country 94.3 WMKR.
1 2 3 4 F
Foxes 0 15 21 9 45
Mustangs 13 7 8 0 28