After a season full of blowout victories for both teams, a Week 8 Southwest 10 Conference football showdown between Mendon and Cassopolis was to be the litmus test with the playoffs on the horizon.
Both teams past the test, but it was No. 3 Mendon (Division 8) that remained undefeated, winning 34-24 on the road for the program’s 500th victory.
Wyatt Cool, who rushed for four touchdowns in the game for the Hornets, will likely be remembered for a defensive play that saved the day.
After Cassopolis (No. 4 in Division 7) came up with an interception deep in Mendon territory with two minutes to play and trailing 27-24, the Rangers eventually got a first down through the air at the 7-yard line. With no timeouts, they spiked the ball, and on second down, they went with a pass play again toward the right pylon. Cool darted in front of the tight end, snatched the ball out of the air and raced 99 yards for a touchdown.
“I knew they were going to pick on me with my pass coverage not being the best,” Cool said. “I figured they needed a score right there, so they were going to try to pick on me at the tight end and try throwing it in the end zone. I figured it was going to go to him, so I just did my best to break it up and I came down with it. My first thought was just don’t fumble it.”
He didn’t. In fact, he raced down the sideline and made some athletic plays to make it all the way down the field for a 99-yard touchdown with 27 seconds left on the clock.
Cassopolis led 13-0 after a two-yard TD run and a 71-yard passing TD in the first quarter. Cool put Mendon on the board with 20 seconds remaining in the opening period with a 14-yard TD run (Leo Barbosa kick). The Rangers made it a 16-7 game at the 9:56 mark in the second quarter with a 37-yard field goal.
Cool helped Mendon cut the deficit to 16-14 with a two-yard TD run in the final minute of the quarter with a PAT kick by Barbosa.
A short-lived lead for the Hornets happened at 8:14 in the third quarter after Cool’s 25-yard TD run and Barbosa kick that made it 21-16 in favor of the visitors. Cassopolis answered two minutes later with a 21-yard TD run by Brandon Anderson. The 2-point conversion pass failed and the Rangers held a slim 24-21 advantage to start the fourth quarter.
Putting Mendon out front again was Cool with a one-yard touchdown run with 8:46 to play (kick failed).
Mendon finished the game with 302 yards of total offense and Cassopolis totaled 347. Cool registered 155 rushing yards on 18 carries, while Corbin Weinberg and A.J. Voorde both finished with 45, and Austin Rensi added 42.
Hunter Lovell and Mikki Feister both made 11 tackles for the Hornets, and Logan Hunter and Noah Slaughter were next in line with seven apiece. Weinberg, made six stops, Rensi, Kaden Frye and Emmett Bingaman all had five, and Cool finished with four. Vorster added three tackles, Sam Cleveland had two, and Voorde made one stop.
Mendon, which locked up a league title with the victory, will look to finish the regular season undefeated Friday at Marcellus.
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