EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Cedar Springs scored 27 points in the first quarter, then hung on in the closing minutes to upset East Grand Rapids 41-40 in the first round of the Division 3 playoffs Friday night.
“It was a heck of a game,” Cedar Springs coach Gus Kapolka said as his team celebrated.
That was an understatement.
The Red Hawks advance to play at DeWitt next week. DeWitt defeated Grand Rapids Christian 42-10 Friday night.
Despite the offensive shootout in East Grand Rapids, it was the Cedar Springs (7-3) defense that made two of the biggest plays of the night.
East Grand Rapids (9-1) opted to go for two with 7:18 left, down 41-40. The Red Hawks forced East Grand Rapids Quarterback Michael Malewitz to throw on the run, and Jalen Broussard couldn’t make the diving catch.
Then with just under two minutes left and East Grand Rapids driving, Cedar Springs’ Nick Campione intercepted Malewitz on fourth down to end the scoring threat.
“Defensively we were not great in the first half, but we made some adjustments at halftime.” Kapolka said. “We made one more play than they did.”
Cedar Springs got off to a hot start on a chilly night against one of the best defenses in the state.
East Grand Rapids was only giving up an average of 8 points per game, and hadn’t allowed more than 20 points all year. Cedar Springs topped those totals in the first quarter, leading 27-12 after 12 minutes.
East Grand Rapids used big plays in the second quarter to tighten the game. Nick Milanowski and Connor Davis both had touchdown catches of more than 40 yards, cutting the Red Hawks lead to 33-28 at halftime.
The two teams combined to score nine touchdowns in the first half, while punting only once.
The undefeated Pioneers took their only lead of the game, 34-33, midway through the third quarter on a 3-yard run by Davis, his third score of the game.
Cedar Springs answered right back five minutes later, when Campoine scored on an 11-yard run. A two-point conversion put Cedar Springs back in front, 41-34.
With 7:18 left in the fourth quarter, Malewitz hit Ben Forstner for a 28-yard potential game-tying touchdown. However, Cedar Springs had blocked two previous extra point attempts, so East Grand Rapids opted to go for two. The failed conversion ended up being the difference.
“It feels great to come here and win on their field,” Campoine said. “What a night.”
Cedar Springs was 0-4 all-time against East Grand Rapids heading into the game Friday night.