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Mistakes doom Dogs in 35-14 loss

Posted: October 17, 2017 1:45 p.m.
Updated: October 17, 2017 1:44 p.m.

When things are going right, mistakes like these do not come back to haunt a team. 

These days, Camden cannot seem to catch a break and for a group which has little room for error, not cashing in on what look like golden opportunities and, even the slightest glitches, will come back to bite you on the backside.

In falling for the sixth straight game, a 35-14 loss to visiting Chester on Friday, the Bulldogs lost a fumble at the Chester four yard line early in the second quarter which turned into a Cyclone touchdown for a 21-7 lead. In the final 40 seconds of the first half, the guests blocked a Camden punt at the Dogs’ six and scored a play later to carry a healthy 27-7 lead into the locker room at intermission.

It was as if Mr. Murphy and his law have taken up permanent residence along the Camden (1-7) sideline.

“That’s the story of the season,” said first-year Camden head coach Brian Rimpf. “The little mistakes you make in a game … you may a miss a block and it doesn’t come back to hurt us … but we’re making big mistakes. They’re game-changing mistakes; the blocked punt, a fumble inside the five yard line. You take those two mistakes away and it’s a touchdown off the board for them and one on for us and it’s a different ballgame.

“We just haven’t passed that point, yet. We haven’t cross that line where we’re not going to hurt ourselves. That’s something that we have to do.”

After a loss to Fairfield Central a week earlier, in its Region 4-AAA opener, in a game in which Camden was held to 168 yards in offense, the Bulldogs unveiled a new offensive scheme for the Cyclones.

The hosts scrapped their spread set, opting instead to start out in a two-back I formation behind quarterback Bryce Jeffcoat. The maneuver paid immediate dividends as Camden opened this homecoming game by traveling 78 yards on eight straight running plays. The scoring drive saw backs Jericho Murphy and Lance McCray sharing the ball-carrying duties.

Murphy went for 24 yards to the Chester 33 on the fourth snap. McCray then took for a gain of 21 a play later to the 12. Murphy capped the tidy march by going up the middle from two yards out for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 8:14 showing on the first quarter clock.

The change in offense caught the fifth-ranked visitors by surprise.

“We felt that we were bigger and more physical than them,” Rimpf said of the change in offensive strategy. “They have a lot of team speed and we didn’t want to make this a track meet, which they tried to do. We wanted to hold the ball from them because they’re pretty explosive.

“We have to clean stuff up but we’re trying whatever works. It worked in spurts but, obviously, the turnover hurt us in the first half. We can’t do that. We’re going to keep that package in, that’s for sure.”

True to their billing, the Cyclone offense wasted little to no time between plays in a no-huddle, quick snap scheme directed by senior quarterback John Erby who clicked on his first three passes for 39 yards and ran the ball two times for another 10 as the visitors answered the Camden score with the equalizer on their first series. The 64-yard march was capped by a nine-yard Stan Mills scoring run to even things at seven with 5:42 to play in the openin the opening stanza.

Chester took the lead for keeps minutes later; going 51 yards on seven snaps with the drive kept alive on a 39-yard Erby to Quay Hardin completion to the Camden one on fourth and 11 from the 40. Erby did the honors, going over from a yard out before finding Hardin with the two-point pass to make it 15-7 with 92 ticks left in the first quarter clock.

Camden had things going its way, temporarily, as junior Shymeik Corbett returned the ensuing kickoff 68 yards before being dragged down at the Cyclones’ 26. On fourth and three from the 19, Jeffcoat was hit after unleashing a pass, giving the Dogs a new set of downs at the Chester 10. But a lost fumble on third and goal at the four was recovered by the Cyclones.

That led to the visitors traveling 95 yards on nine plays with Erby calling his own number on second and 10 from the Camden 48. The elusive signal-caller broke to his right before cutting and bolting down the sidelines for the touchdown and the 21-7 lead with 7:37 left in the second quarter.

Camden’s defense came up big after a Bulldog punt. With Chester knocking on the door at the Camden two, Erby lost the ball on a third down carry with Camden defensive end Dontrell Sutton diving on the loose ball at the one with less than three minutes to play before intermission.

A 12-yard Corbett run to the 27 helped get Camden out of the hole but the hosts were still forced to punt after seven snaps. Chester’s Teddy Murphy, however, would block Bennett Caldwell’s rugby style punt which was recovered by Jericho Murphy who was dragged down at his own six with 37 seconds left before the break.

Erby made it a one-play series by scoring a backbreaking touchdown to make it 27-7 with 31 seconds left in the half.

Chester had 265 of its final 391 yards in offense in a first 24 minutes in which Victor Floyd’s team ran 33 plays while spreading the Camden defense out from sideline to side which opened running room for the Cyclones’ athletes.

“They’re fast and real athletic,” Rimpf said. “On defense, we were having trouble matching their athletes, especially on the perimeter. They spread you out so much and they make you have to make one-on-one tackles in the middle of the field which was a good job by them.”

The Camden defense came out and forced a turnover on the second play of the second half with McCray pouncing on a Mills fumble at the Chester 37.

The Dogs were able to get to the Cyclones’ 23 but on third and 10, another lost fumble stunted the threat. A defensive hold returned the ball to the Camden offense at its own 30.

With Murphy taking snaps from the wildcat set, Camden was able to get momentum as the senior tailback went for runs of six and nine yards for a first down. On third and six from the 44, Murphy took the snap and broke loose for 33 yards for a first down at the Chester 23. Murphy would cap the nine-play march by going around left end and into the end zone for the touchdown on fourth and one from the 14 with 1:53 left in the third quarter.

Trailing, 27-14, Camden was back within striking distance thanks to having made some tweaks on defense during halftime. 

“We tried to get more athletes on the field,” he said. “We went to a nickel and dime package where we took either a lineman or linebacker out and replaced them with a defensive back because that’s the kind of personnel they have. They have a lot of fast guys and we tried to match up with them but it’s tough. They’re good at what they do.”

Within two touchdowns of the lead, Camden’s offense was unable to chip away at the deficit in being forced to punt on a possession which came in between a pair of Chester punt.

The Bulldogs would be stopped on fourth and seven from their own 47 with less than four minutes to play in the contest. Chester then did some window-dressing, using an eight-yard Mills scoring run with 1:21 to play followed by Erby running in the two-point conversion to make it a 21-point final spread.

“Give Chester credit; they’re a really good team,” Rimpf said. “We just have to play better; we have to tackle better and execute better on offense.”

While placing more emphasis on the ground game, Camden rushed for 263 yards on 45 carries with Murphy going for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. The Dogs completed four of 13 passes for 62 yards for 325 yards in offense.

In his post-game talk to his players, Rimpf emphasized that the Dogs can still make the playoffs but have to win, at least, one of their final two region games. The first of those comes Friday against an Indian Land entry which defeated Columbia, 14-6, on Thursday to get in the 4-AAA win column.

“I hate to say this because we all hate losing,” Rimpf said, “but we still have a chance to get into the playoffs. This season hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to go but this next game is the most important one. It’s a region opponent at their place and we’re going to have to work hard to beat a good Indian Land team.”

 

Dubose injury update: A scary scene occurred with 8:42 left in the game when Camden junior defensive back Jalyn Dubose was injured on a collision with an oncoming teammate while making a tackle. Dubose appeared to be able to move his arms and legs before being treated and taken off the field by stretcher and placed into the back of an ambulance after being tended to by a pair of trainers and Kershaw County EMT workers.

On Sunday, it was reported that X-rays on Dubose’s back and neck came back negative and he was diagnosed with an injury to the head/neck area. He was released from Kershaw Health later Friday night.

 

Bulldog Bites: The Bulldogs had trouble sustaining drive on offense as they were 2-for-11 on third down conversions but were 2-for-4 on fourth down plays. Conversely, Chester was 4-of-9 on third down and 2-for-3 on fourth down situations … The guests were only flagged once for five yards while Camden had six infractions, resulting in a loss of 21 yards … In addition to Murphy’s 169 yards on the ground, McCray had 15 carries for 69 yards. Both seniors played on both sides of the football … Corbett rushed for 21 yards, caught one pass for 34 yards while adding 68 yards on a kickoff return … Harrelson had three punts for 103 yards including a career-best 56-yard boot … Erby led Chester by rushing for 141 yards on 24 carries while throwing for 119 more yards on an 8-for-17 night … Mills ran the ball 20 times for 132 yards … The Cyclones were limited to 126 yards in offense on 30 second half snaps.

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