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CMA own worst enemy in 38-14 loss

Posted: October 13, 2016 3:39 p.m.
Updated: October 14, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I photo/

CMA’S KIMANI FLETCHER ELUDES the outstretched arm of the Carolina Wildcats’ Adam Thomas in Monday’s game. Fletcher scored both Spartan touchdowns in the loss

Before the first quarter of Monday’s game with the Carolina Wildcats ended, Camden Military Academy had already scored more points in 11-plus minutes than it had in any of its first four games combined.

The good times and the Spartans’ 14-8 lead both would fall by the wayside as the visitors from Pickens handed CMA a 38-14 loss in a matinee pushed back from Friday due to the rains from Hurricane Matthew.

The loss was the fifth in as many outings for Will Rice’s squad which has a short turnaround with Trinity Academy coming to Spartan Field for Saturday’s Homecoming contest at 2:30 p.m.

The Wildcats big-played their hosts by getting a pair of Pick 6’s and a 70-yard kickoff return from Jordan Bash. In the end, those three plays proved to be the difference in the game.

“We gave 16 to 24 points today and it’s hard to come back from that,” Rice said after the contest which got chippy in the final minutes. “We just kept making mistakes … it’s tough.”

Having scored 12 points in their first four games, the Spartans needed less than three minutes to put eight on their side of the scoreboard with a game-opening 55-yard scoring drive which was kicked off with Kimani Fletcher’s 11-yard carry being followed by Brice Fleming shedding would-be tacklers on his way to a 36-yard run to the Wildcats’ nine. On third and goal from the eight, Fletcher took the handoff from quarterback Josiah Taylor and swept around right end for the afternoon’s first score. Jaydon Shearn tacked on the PAT kick and with 9:24 showing on the first quarter clock, CMA was off and running with a 7-0 lead.

The momentum would be short-lived as the guests used a facemask call against the Spartans on a third down play in which the hosts defense stacked up Wildcat quarterback Blake Tolbert for a loss only for the infraction to set up a third and one from the 48. On that play, Tolbert went up top for Bash, who grabbed a tipped pass at the CMA 16 for a gain of 36 yards.

Faced with a third and 18 from the 24, the Wildcats went to tailback Ron Johnson who went untouched around right end for the touchdown. Tolbert carried in the two-point run as the guests went on top, 8-7 with 5:13 left in the opening quarter.

The Spartans received their first break of the day when they recovered a muffed punt at the Wildcat 12 with 1:58 left in the first. A personal foul call against the visitors set the ball at the six. Three plays later, Fletcher crashed in from two yards out. Shearn’s kick followed as CMA regained the lead at 14-8 with 37.8 seconds left in the first.

Bash struck again when, after a pair of CMA kickoffs landed out of bounds, he took the third one at his own 30. Getting an escort of blockers on his left, Bash went untouched into the end zone with the 70-yard return which was followed by Johnson’s two-point run for the 16-14 Carolina lead at the 21.4 second mark of a wild first quarter.

CMA’s stretch of tough luck continued when, on the first play of the second quarter, Juwan Hallums picked off a Spartan pass at and took it 31 yards for the touchdown and the 24-14 lead.

The Spartans made two more forays into Wildcat territory before intermission. The first of those ended with Fletcher being dragged down at the Carolina 36 after a gain of three on a fourth and five run. 

After taking over at its own 40 following a punt, CMA used a 16-yard Fletcher run to the Wildcats’ 33. On fourth and nine from the 32, Taylor spotted Miles Dudley, who managed to get a foot inbounds on a 14-yard pass for a first down at the 18. On third and 10 from that spot, Hallums came up with another pick at his own six with 13.9 ticks left in the first half clock as the Spartans headed to the locker room trailing 24-24 at the break.

Led by Fletcher’s running for 66 yards on 17 first half carries, CMA had 140 yards in offense in the opening half. Things changed in the second 24 minutes as the Wildcats made adjustments on defense and held the Spartans to just 23 yards on 14 second half snaps.

“There were times when we were moving the ball,” Rice said of his offense in the first half. “Then, they brought more people in the box and we couldn’t get out passing game going and it kind of messed that up.”

The Wildcats started to put additional distance between themselves and CMA in opening the second half with a 10-play, 77-yard scoring drive capped by Tolbert faking the bootleg left and then, stopping to find a wide-open Cameron Jackson in the right corner of the end zone on a pretty third and two completion from the six.

“We got drawn in by the play-fake,” Rice said of a play in which his entire defensive unit went left in shadowing Tolbert.

The Spartans had their chances to cut into the deficit thanks to a pair of third quarter fumble recoveries. The first was gathered in by David Vargo at the Carolina 46 but the Wildcat defense came up big with a stop on fourth and two from the 38. The Wildcats fumbled on the ensuing play with Wesley Jackson pouncing on the loose ball at the Wildcat 48.

The dagger came two plays after the guests turned the ball over for the second time in as many snaps as Tolbert picked off a Spartan aerial at his own 36 and sprinted 64 yards for the second interception return for a score on the afternoon for the hosts whose lead ballooned to 38-14 with less than 23 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Fletcher went for 87 yards on 24 carries to pace the CMA offense which received another 40 yards from Fleming on his six carries.

As he watched the two teams shake hands at midfield, Rice said his team paid dearly for its miscues while adding that with another game coming up on Saturday, this was not a time to be playing a game of “what if.”

“We just made too many mistakes today and we can’t have that,” he said. “We can’t beat ourselves. We have to go back and correct mistakes. We’ll come back and line up on Saturday and play ball.”

 

Spartans gear up for Homecoming: Camden Military Academy had a quick turnaround from Monday’s game with Trinity Academy coming to town on Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. contest at Spartan Field.

The Coastal Athletic Association game will also mark Homecoming for the Spartans.

The visiting Knights, from Gray, Tenn., will carry a 5-3 record into Saturday’s game. Included in their five victories is a 41-8 thrashing of the Carolina Wildcats in Pickens on Sept. 23.

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