Word was it would be a blood-letting. With Churchill High doing both the bleeding and the letting against Class 5A football’s fourth-ranked Springfield. At least this was one sentiment cast within earshot of the public address announcer’s table at Churchill’s Halverson Field prior to the Midwestern League game. But through three quarters on Friday night, the Churchill Lancers neglected any unbelievers and quarantined a Millers’ offense to just 13 points while scoring 10 of their own. The Lancers were taming an offense that had averaged 51 points a game in its last three games. The problem was that Springfield’s defense proved more stubborn, and the Miller’s offensive weapons found their footing to score two fourth quarter touchdowns, closing out the regular season with a 27-10 win.
“Both teams were getting after each other,” Springfield coach Dave Heuberger said. “Not fun to watch, but like (one of my player said) that’s a wrap…In the second half, we held onto the ball and were able to establish drives. In the first half it was hard to get a rhythm going.”
Leading the Springfield (7-2 overall, 6-1 MWL) cause was wide receiver Taylor Travess, who finished with 108 yards of total offense and three touchdowns (one receiving and two rushing). The senior also had an interception in the end zone with the Lancers (3-5, 3-3) on the 9-yard line with just 1:11 before halftime.
Following the interception with SpringfieId leading 13-3, the Millers drove the ball 79 yards to the Churchill 1-yard line. Then two seconds before halftime the Millers fumbled, and Churchill linebacker Mitch Hindrum took the ball 100 yards for the Lancers’ lone TD of the night. “It was time for us to make a stand,” Hindrum said. “We did and the ball popped out…I was in disbelief. I think we worked really hard this week. Sometimes this season we underachieved, but I think tonight we made a pretty good statement.”
The teams went into the halftime with Springfield ahead 13-10. The Millers had a total of 222 yards in that first half to Churchill’s 127, but the half-ending fumble return by Hindrum changed the game’s tone. “It put us right in the heart of the game. We just had a hard time sustaining anything,” Churchill coach Darrell Mehl said.
Offensively, Churchill stumbled often and was only able to produce three points, a 32-yard field goal by kicker Giovanni Brigola in the second quarter. Springfield’s two scores in the first half were a 14-yard pass from quarterback Trever Watson to Travess and a 46-yard TD run by Watson. Springfield’s quarterback completed 13 of 24 passes for 135 yards a touchdown and ran 14 times for 87 yards.
Neither team scored in the third quarter. In fact the first five possessions of the second half ended in punts. The Millers finally broke through with a 17-play, 80 yard drive that ended when Travess ran it in from five yards. That put the score at 20-10. And on its second play of its following possession, Churchill fumbled it over to Springfield with 5:12 left in the game.
The Millers drove it 58 yards on eight plays and scored on a Travess 2-yard run. “Tonight we came out flat,” Travess said. “They came out with nothing to lose.
“Normally we’re a big-play team, but we didn’t click tonight…They fought. They had a little bit of life after the 100-yard fumble recovery and run, but we had the last punch.”
Springfield ends the season second in the Midwestern League standings behind Ashland (9-0, 6-0), and Churchill finished fourth in league play.
As one of the top eight teams, Springfield will have a week off before the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. Churchill is hoping to earn an opportunity to play into the playoffs in a game this coming Friday. Entering their game against Springfield, the Lancers were ranked No. 24. If that ranking stands, they will face the No. 9 team. More definitive post-season schedules will be known once the Oregon School Activities Association finalizes the rankings.