Springfield senior receiver Henry Alexander has a gift for grab. He let his football do the talking in a span of about a minute Friday night.
Alexander’s two momentum-shifting plays contributed to Springfield’s first win for new coach Maurice Douglass, 34-21 at winless Shawnee.
The Wildcats were quick — Alexander quick to be accurate — in erasing a 7-0 halftime deficit.
Springfield’s defense recovered a fumble 30 seconds into the third quarter on the Braves’ 36. A couple of plays later, Alexander reached back to snag quarterback Nick McCaughey’s pass, then eluded a pair of defenders for a 27-yard touchdown with 10:50 left. Moments later, his shoelace grab on a tipped pass led to his 20-yard interception return for another touchdown and the Wildcats’ 14-7 lead.
Shawnee tied it 14-14 on Kohlton Sine's 10-yard run, but the Wildcats stayed true to their motto this season: Restore the Roar.
Receiver Danny Davis, unfazed by having a 49-yard TD run called back, ran it in 20 yards for the 20-14 lead.
After the Wildcats’ defense held, running back Robert Smith ripped off a 40-yard run for a 27-14 advantage. Davis put it away with a 53-yard run with two minutes to play for the final score.
The Braves, who rolled up 647 yards in total offense in a loss to Vandalia Butler last week, struggled to sustain drives until late in the second half. Zach Avery pulled Shawnee within 27-21 with his five-yard run with 2:21 to play.
But two of Shawnee’s second-half drives ended in interceptions by Alexander near midfield with 9:34 left in the game and Kawambee Moss with 6:10 to play.
Following last week’s struggles in a 34-6 loss to Trotwood, Douglass said the Wildcats needed to show more than just glimpses of talent. He got that in the second half.
For the second straight week Shawnee let a game get away in the second half. Butler scored 34 unanswered points after halftime. Add in Springfield’s points and Shawnee has been outscored 68-14.
The loss was a blow to Shawnee’s desire to stretch its playoff streak to six straight seasons, something coach Rick Meeks takes great pride in. The Braves can still claim one of the eight spots in the Division III, Region 10 playoffs but they’ll need to rattle off an impressive run starting Friday against visiting Northwestern.