SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Millers dominated on both sides of the ball at home Friday in their league opener against Crater, taking down the Comets 33-15. The Millers keys to victory were winning the turnover battle by a whopping +5 (6 Comets turnovers to 1 Millers), as well as continually riding their running game as the Millers totaled 209 yards and 3 touchdowns on 48 carries.
“I’m excited about the results tonight, but I’m more excited about how they attacked Monday through Thursday, which is what we talked about last week, and the process of the week led to tonight,” said Miles Haley, Springfield head coach. “But really, really happy and really proud of the guys that they got to put forth their best effort today.”
The Millers came out of the game firing, getting the opening kickoff and driving 80 yards for a score. The drive was led by juniors Caeleb Kasperek and Connor Dye. Dye rushed for 26 yards, while Kasperek used his arm and legs as he threw for 25 yards and punched in the opening score on a 4-yard run to make it 7-0 Millers five minutes into the game.
Crater would take over at their own 43 after a solid kick return by senior Andrew Schatz. The Comets would start to put a good-looking drive together, but it was cut short by a tipped ball that Springfield junior Jackson Babbitt would intercept. The Millers would be unable to convert the turnover into points however, and Crater got the ball back on their own 31.
On the second play of that drive junior quarterback Shane Wood connected with senior Scott Price for a 68-yard pass that would set-up a 5-yard TD run by senior Andrew Kelly. The Comets would convert on the two-point conversion with a pass from Wood to sophomore TE Valentin Rodriguez, giving Crater the lead 8-7 with 1:58 left in the 1st quarter.
Both offenses would stall at that point, with the Millers unable to move the ball and unable to take advantage of a Wood fumble that senior lineman Bryan Lomeli recovered. Springfield would go three-and-out after the fumble recovery and the Comets took over and made their way into Miller territory after a 23-yard pass from Wood to Kelly. Two plays later though Babbitt would once again pick the ball off, this time returning it 21 yards to the Comet 49.
The Millers would take full advantage of this turnover, gaining all 49 yards on the ground as Dye punched it in from 11 yards out to make it 13-8 Millers with five minutes left in the half. Both teams once again stalled, as the quarterbacks exchanged lost fumbles, and Springfield would head into half up 13-8.
Crater would receive the kick to start the second-half, and would once again have a good return, this time taking the kick to the Springfield 39-yard line. The Comets would score almost immediately on a Kelly run, taking the lead 15-13. It was all Springfield from then on.
The Millers responded right away, driving the ball 75 yards and scoring on a gutsy call and throw on 4th and 15. Kasperek connected with senior Dwayne Fotta for the 22-yard score and Springfield took the lead 20-15 with two minutes left in the third.
Both teams went three-and-out after that, and an interception by Springfield senior Hyban Garcia nearly put the game away, but the Millers were unable to convert on another redzone fourth down, giving the ball to Crater on its own 10.
Two plays later the Millers would get their fourth interception of the game, this one by senior Julian Gomez, who returned the ball to the Crater 20-yard line. Kasperek would connect with junior Zack Sherman three plays later on a 13-yard pitch and catch, giving Springfield a 26-15 lead with just over three minutes left in the game.
Crater was understandably desperate after that, and went for fourth-and-11 on their own 27 the very next drive. The Comets failed to convert, and Dye capitalized four plays later for his second touchdown run of the game, icing the game for good by putting the Millers up 33-15 with a minute left to play.
Springfield (2-1) now heads to South Eugene (1-2) next week and will look to continue with its early-season momentum.
Millers Top Performers:
Caeleb Kasperek – 8/17, 113 yards, 2 TDS, 13 rushes, 70 yards, 1 TD
Connor Dye – 23 rushes, 89 yards, 2 TDs
Jackson Babbitt – 3 catches, 55 yards, 2 INTS on defense
Dwayne Fotta – 2 catches, 26 yards, 1 TD
Zack Sherman – 1 catch, 13 yards, 1 TD
Julian Gomez and Hyban Garcia – 1 INT each