Big games call for big plays.
The Spencer Tigers made those big plays when it mattered most, overcoming five turnovers to defeat the Bishop Heelan (Sioux City) Crusaders, 32-14, putting themselves in position for a playoff berth.
The Tigers finish their regular season at 7-2 and 4-1 in district play. Heelan finishes 7-2 and 3-2 in the district.
Spencer first separated itself from Heelan late in the first half when Jon Nissen forced a fumble on a Crusaders kickoff return and Darrious Green returned the ball to the end zone to put the Tigers up 19-7 with 1:38 left in the half.
Spencer took that 19-7 lead into the second half.
Spencer had ball control trouble in the first half, but capitalized where it matters.
The Tigers led 10-0 entering the second quarter. Then they caught the turnover bug.
As the Tigers were driving, Heelan intercepted a pitch and returned it 80-plus yards for a touchdown. With the PAT, the Crusaders drew to within 10-7.
On Spencer’s next drive, quarterback Gage Garnatz fumbled and Heelan recovered at the Tigers’ 45 yard line.
Spencer would put the ball on the ground and Heelan recovered a third time with 5:22 left in the second half, but the Tigers defense again prevented any further damage.
Spencer’s big plays of the second quarter began with a long 39-yard field goal by Cale Salton to put the Tigers up 13-7 with 1:48 remaining in the half.
The Tigers’ special teams then struck on the ensuing kickoff with the fumble returned for a touchdown by Green. Spencer missed the 2-point conversion attempt.
Isaiah Spencer fumbled on the Tigers’ first drive of the second half, but the Tigers’ defense held.
Heelan scored the first points of the second half with 7:07 left in the game to draw within five points, 19-14.
From there, it was all Tigers.
Michael Storey returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yard for a touchdown to put the Tigers up 25-14.
Storey would then strike again, this time on defense for an interception.
Isaiah Spencer turned the Tigers’ next drive into points with a touchdown run with 2:05 left, putting the Tigers ahead 32-14 after a PAT.
At this point, the Tigers are likely in the post season.