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Spartans end season on a winning note

Posted: November 3, 2016 11:15 a.m.
Updated: November 4, 2016 1:00 a.m.

Taking out a season’s worth of frustrations out on the visiting Carolina Gladiators, the Camden Military Academy football team closed its schedule out with a 53-6 win on Saturday afternoon at Spartan Field.

The victory left the hosts with a final 1-7 record while scoring more points in the season finale than they had in the first seven games combined.

It was a relieved CMA head coach Will Rice who said his players and coaching staff deserved to go out on a winning note.

“They enjoyed the heck out of it,” Rice said of his players’ reaction after the lopsided affair. 

“The week of practice leading up to this game was the best week we had all season long. I was very proud of them and our coaches. It was just an overall great team effort.”

After the guests returned an interception for a 70-yard Pick 6 on the opening series of the game, the Spartans proceeded to score the next 53 points including 47 by halftime.

For a team which had its problems scoring this season, carrying a 34-point advantage into the locker room at the break was uncharted territory. “Going into halftime and holding a big lead was not something we had experienced this season,” Rice said.

CMA was moving the ball down the field on its first possession and had picked up three first downs on a drive which was short-circuited by the Pick 6.

Ironically, Rice said, his team wanted to establish the passing game to help open the running lanes. That plan of attack went out the window with the interception.

“Our goal was to air it out a little more in this game,” Rice said. “We picked up three first downs on our first drive by running the football and then, on our first pass play, we got picked off. We became a little more ground-oriented after throwing that pass.”

The Spartans’ Barrett Sullivan became a one-man wrecking crew in the opening quarter.

On the hosts’ second possession, he went in for a 30-yard touchdown run which was followed by a Kyle Rhodes kick for a 7-6 lead. The Spartans then recovered a pooch kick in Gladiator territory with Sullivan capping the short march with a 20-yard run for a 14-6 lead. He struck against minutes later, scoring on a 17-yard run to make it 20-6 heading into the second stanza.

For the afternoon, Sullivan had 109 rushing yards on 13 carries with three touchdowns.

The Spartans tacked on three more scores before intermission starting with a 15-yard Jack Ferguson touchdown run to put the lead at 27-6. Brice Fleming then closed a drive with a two-yard plunge before Mason Van Loan grabbed what was a pitch from the Gladiator quarterback to his tailback for a 15-yard scoring return to make it 41-6. A 45-yard Cade Sanders to Robert Shields pass ended the first half scoring.

After a scoreless third quarter, CMA added a final touchdown in the fourth quarter when Sanders and Shields hooked up on a 25-yard pass on a fourth and long situation.

Ferguson led all rushers on the day, piling up 143 yards on 14 carries. Sanders closed the afternoon clicking on four of his seven passes for 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns. “Our offensive line did a great job in opening up some huge holes for us,” Rice said.

Defensively, the Spartans did not allow the Gladiators’ offense to cross midfield. Rice singled out a pair of his defensive backs for their play.

“Wesley Jackson broke up a couple of passes for us while Jackson Bell had several big hits along the sideline from his safety position,” said the CMA boss. “And, Van Loan had a couple big plays along with returning the pitch for a touchdown.”

What pleased Rice as much as anything on Saturday was that his team was able to put together a complete game.

“We hadn’t been able to put everything together in one game until Saturday,” he said. “It seemed like all the pieces came together for us in this game. It was a good way for us to end the season, there’s no doubt about that.”


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