High School Football: Springfield holds off Princeton

Springfield’s Caleb Johnson runs down the side line for a big gain after catching a pass against Princeton during Friday’s game. BILL LACKEY / STAFF

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Springfield’s Caleb Johnson runs down the side line for a big gain after catching a pass against Princeton during Friday’s game. BILL LACKEY / STAFF

For the second week in a row, Springfield overcame an ugly beginning to pick up a win.

Unlike the 55-21 laugher at Lancaster in Week 1, however, this time the Wildcats (2-0) and their fans at Evans Stadium had to sweat out the final seconds.

Leonard Taylor iced the 27-24 win over Princeton with a quarterback sneak to convert a fourth-and-short with just over a minute to go.

“That’s what I’m expected to do,” the senior said. “I’m a big-time player and a leader for my team. Just got to come through for my team.”

He finished with 241 yards through the air after completing 16 of 32 passes. He also ran for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown, a 6-yarder midway through the fourth quarter.

His favorite target was again Caleb Johnson, who caught 10 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown.

Facing a Princeton team that upset them in Week 2 last season, the Wildcats’ start and finish both left something to be desired.

They were called for false start twice before running a play, and that came after Taylor was sent off for not having his mouthpiece in when the offense got set.

Tyler Carter replaced the senior, and his first pass was intercepted, setting up Princeton with a short field the Vikings converted into a 25-yard field goal.

Taylor returned on the ensuing possession, but he also threw a pick. This time it was deep in Vikings territory, and it actually ended up setting up the first Springfield score.

Jahemrinn Echols intercepted a Princeton pass in the flat and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown.

The Wildcats tacked on another score later in the first quarter when a scrambling Taylor improvised, pitching the ball to Tavion Smoot after drawing a host of Vikings to him.

Smoot, a 240-pound sophomore, cut back against the grain and found a big patch of open FieldTurf, sprinting 35 yards to the goal line.

Springfield struck again midway through the third quarter when Taylor and Johnson hooked up for a 20-yard touchdown to put the Wildcats up 21-3.

They looked like they would cruise from there, but the Vikings scored three times in the fourth quarter to make it interesting.

Hosea Hairston hooked up with Jared Thomas for a 4-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-10 with 9:04 left.

After Taylor’s touchdown run, Princeton got a strong kickoff return, and a circus catch by Rafael Floyd gave the Vikings a first-and-goal. Javon Dailey cashed that in with a 4-yard touchdown run, and Daevon Bryant’s 39-yard touchdown run for Princeton after the Springfield offense stalled made it a three-point game with 1:47 left.

But the onside kick went out of bounds, and Taylor took it from there.

“That was a good win for us,” senior linebacker Cameron Hoelscher said. “Now it’s just a grind time for us. We’re on to Week 3, and we’re 0-0 again.”

The Wildcats will host Lima Senior next week before starting GWOC National East play against Centerville.

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