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CMA blindsided by onside kicks in loss

Carolina Wildcats recover three in row to take 34-28 win

Posted: October 14, 2014 9:32 a.m.
Updated: October 15, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Recovering one onside kick in a game is great. You do it twice and you raise some eyebrows. Getting the hat trick draws the ire of the opposing coach. But when they all happen in the final six minutes of the same game on three successive attempts?
That is enough to send a sane coach over the edge.
Will Rice could not believe what he saw in Saturday’s 34-28 loss to the visiting Carolina Wildcats as the guests scored three times in the closing minutes of play to erase a 28-12 deficit and come away with their sixth win of the season.
To make the loss sting even more, the Spartans (2-3) did not recover any of the three onside kicks which came their way down the stretch.
“What are the odds of a team getting three onside kicks in one game?” Rice said. “They should have bought a lottery ticket after that.”
Rice called the setback “gut-wrenching” given the fact that the hosts had a 16-point lead following quarterback Raeshawn Breckenridge’s one-yard keeper early in the fourth quarter to make it a 28-12 game.
The Wildcats came back with a scoring drive to make it 28-18. That touchdown was followed by their recovering the first onside kick. After an exchange of punts, the Wildcats scored again to close the gap to 28-26. A third onside kick landed in the arms of a Wildcat player as the guests scored the winning touchdown in the closing minutes to leave with an improbable six-point win.
“This was a game that we should have had,” Rice said. “For one and a half quarters, we dominated the game. “Then, it was almost like the perfect storm for us. Whatever could go wrong for us went wrong in the second half of the fourth quarter.”
Actually, things started going against the hosts in the first quarter when starting defensive end and USC signee Dexter Wideman sustained a dislocated elbow which will end his only season as a Spartan.
“He’s a great kid who the rest of our guys love being around,” Rice said of Wideman. “It was tough in the second quarter. Then, when we heard what the injury was at halftime, our kids wanted to win the game for him.”
After a scoreless first quarter, CMA jumped to a 7-0 lead on a Breckenridge two-yard scoring run. The Wildcats then closed to within 7-6 on a 10-yard scoring run which was followed by another Carolina score for a 12-7 halftime lead.
The Spartans got things going in the third quarter with Nyaun Pate scoring on a 45-yard run to give the hosts a 14-12 lead. Before the stanza end, fullback Joshua Miller blasted his way into the end zone from 20 yards out to make it 21-12.
The Spartans hiked their lead to 16 points with Breckenridge’s second scoring run of the afternoon, which came before the Wildcats closed the contest with a 22-0 run.
“We could play the ‘what if’ game all we want,” Rice said. “If we could have gotten a first down and kept on running the ball or, if we could have recovered just one of the onside kicks. Our defense played a good game except for the final two times they had the ball.”
The CMA defense stayed on the field for the second half of the fourth quarter with the onside kicks going to the visitors. “Our defense kept going back on the field without a break,” Rice said. “They were hot and winded, but we can’t use that as an excuse because we should have been able to make the plays (on the onside kicks.)”
Offensively, CMA used a punishing ground game which featured fullbacks Ian Benton and Miller helping the hosts move the ball down the middle of the field. Pate’s scoring run and several sweep passes also aided in the offensive attack until the final minutes that unit was left to watch from the sidelines as the Wildcat offense stole the show in the game’s final minutes.
“We just didn’t finish,” Rice said, “for whatever reason.”
The Spartan look to rebound from this loss when they return to Spartan Field on Saturday to host the New Covenant Knights in  a 2:30 p.m. start. The contest will be the last home game of the season for CMA.

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