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First half woes leads to first Bulldog loss

HHS jumps to 17-0 lead, hangs on for 17-13 victory

Posted: October 10, 2010 4:00 p.m.
Updated: October 11, 2010 5:00 a.m.

As if he just wanted to make sure, Jeff Calabrese turned and took a quick glance at the Zemp Stadium scoreboard.

Calabrese, the Hartsville head coach, was still a bit stunned, not so much by his team’s 17-13 win over previously unbeaten Camden, but by holding a potent bulldog offense to just two touchdowns. The guests did all their scoring damage in the opening 20 minutes of the contest.

The loss not only knocked the hosts (6-1) from the unbeaten ranks, but also dropped them behind the Red Foxes and Marlboro County --- both 2-0 --- in the Region 6-AAA race.

Hartsville (4-3) held the CHS ground game in check as the Dogs managed just 23 yards on 20 rushing attempts. In the air, the state’s seventh-ranked squad threw for 222 yards. Where the HHS defense shined, however, was when Camden got the ball from midfield in.

The Bulldogs came up big on six occasions, not surrendering a point when the hosts were in Red Fox territory. The biggest hold of the night came when Hartsville stuffed Cedrick Malone behind the line of scrimmage on a fourth and one at the Red Fox six with a shade more than nine minutes left in the game.

Calabrese was left with little else to say other than to tip his hat to his own defense.

“Oh, man,” he said while shaking his head. “Our defense has been getting better and better. Camden is such an explosive football team. If you had told me that they would only have 13 points at the end of this ballgame, I would have told you that you were crazy. This is one of the best offensive teams that I’ve seen in a while.

“Our kids just played very well and were very physical. It was a physical ballgame on both sides tonight.”

The Red Foxes piled up 210 of their 275 yards --- all on the ground --- in total offense in the first half with 215-pound sophomore running back Tre Rogers going for 135 of his 168 yards in the opening 24 minutes. Camden’s defense turned things around in the second half, liming the guests to 65 yards in offense with 41 of those coming on two late-game runs of 20 and 21 yards.

Camden head coach Jimmy Neal agreed that, when watching film on Monday, his team will learn from its first half mistakes while building on its second half success. Still, however, you could feel the sting in his voice as he talked about the loss in a near-empty locker room.

“We did not play well at all in the first half. Obviously, that’s my fault … that’s my job. I didn’t have them ready,” Neal said. “I was very proud of them in the second half. It was tough because we had the ball down there a couple times and couldn’t get it in. It was a very frustrating game.”

The first of those times came on Camden’s first possession, which started from its own 28 following a punt. The Dogs used an 11-yard quarterback keeper by Dillon Morrow, with a 15-yard personal foul call tacked onto it, to get to the Red Foxes’ 28. A 20-yard Morrow-to-DaVante` Hayes pass set the ball at the 28.Consecutive incompletions on third and fourth downs and four from the 22 gave the ball back to the visitors, who continued to feed the ball to Rogers.

On first down, Rogers went around the right end for a gain of 51 yards to the CHS 27. On third and four from the 21, Ernest Wallace got the call and picked up 13 yards on the left side. On third and nine from the 12, Rogers picked up six yards to set up a fourth and three, on which Eric Williams’ five-yard carry was negated by a holding call. The guests were forced to settle for Teal Davis’ 32-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead at the 2:31 mark of the opening quarter.

Camden threatened again on its next possession, only to have Hartsville’s D.J. Wilds bat down a Morrow pass on fourth and seven from the Red Fox 31. Ten plays later, including a pair of 15-yard bursts by Rogers and a 17-yard run by Stephon Segars, HHS had the ball at the Camden nine. Two snaps later, Wallace went off left tackle and into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown and a 10-0 HHS lead with 6:06 left in the second quarter.

By this time, Rogers had already piled up 109 yards on 10 carries as the Red Foxes’ Wing-T was shredding a CHS defense which, one week earlier, held Crestwood to minus (-8) yards in offense. Neal said there was no trickery to what Hartsville was doing with the football. His defense was able to adjust in the second half.

“It was just what we practiced for,” Neal said. “There really wasn’t much to it, it was just our getting there, getting off blocks and beating blocks in the second half.”

Hartsville ran the ball all but twice in 54 offensive plays in a conservative offense which did enough damage in the early going to come away with the win.

“We’re awful young; we start five sophomores on offense so, we try to minimize the damage, so to speak,” Calabrese said of his offensive game plan. “Camden made some great adjustments in the second half which kept us out of the end zone. That’s the kind of coaching staff they are. We were just able to hold on.”

Camden’s first big mistake of the night came on the ensuing possession as a high snap to punter Alvonta` Jenkins, on fourth and 10 from his own 20, forced Jenkins to run with the ball before being dragged down at his own 15. Two plays later, HHS was in the end zone as Wallace swept around right end for the nine-yard score for a 17-0 lead after Davis’ PAT kick with 4:56 left before intermission.

Needing something positive to happen, Camden struck back quickly after taking over at its own 33 following the kick.
Jeffrey Belton broke free for a gain of 35 yards to the HHS 32 on first down. Morrow then did the rest his arm, finding Jerrod Beaufort for seven yards on first down and then hitting Jenkins on a slant pattern, which Jenkins took to the end zone for the score at the 3:32 marker of the second stanza. Ethan Smith tacked on the PAT kick, drawing the Dogs to within 17-7, which is the way this one stood at intermission thanks in part to the first of two interceptions by Dexter Scarborough, who picked off a CHS aerial on a broken off route at his own 30 with less than 90 seconds to go before halftime.

“Their secondary is a lot better than I thought they were. They did a good job tonight,” Neal said of Hartsville.

“Those guys have been doing a good job for us,” Calabrese said of his secondary which, at times, put six defenders into coverage. “We added Eric Williams, a running back, over there and he did a great job.

“If you defend Camden well, you’re doing something. And I say that with the utmost respect. I’m just proud of our kids for coming up big tonight.”

Having been frustrated on offense on several forays into Red Fox territory in the first half, the Camden defense got payback early in the third quarter when tackle Sheldon Wright blew through the line to take down Segars for a three-yard loss on fourth and two from the CHS 33 on the visitors’ first offensive series of the second half.

A 15-yard personal foul call against the Red Foxes, followed by a 10-yard holding call against CHS, set the ball at the Bulldogs’ 25 with 31 yards to go for a first down. Morrow got 21 yards back on two plays, spotting Jenkins with an 11-yard pass and then, Beaufort for 10. On third and 10 from his own 46, Morrow rolled to his right and found a sliding Tim Dinkins, who made the grab at the HHS 33 for a gain of 21.

Morrow kept the hot hand, hooking up with Jenkins for 16 yards on a second and 11 from the 34. Three plays later, on second and five from the 13, Morrow zipped a pass to Jenkins, running a skinny post, and the 6-foot, 200-pounder received a big block from Beaufort at the nine and then shed two would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone. The PAT kick missed the mark, but with 2:20 left in the third, CHS had closed the gap to a 17-13.

Camden missed a gold opportunity to take the lead for the first time after forcing a punt which Hayes returned 18 yards to his own 49. It appeared as if the Dogs would get 15 yards more after the play due to a personal foul penalty at the end of the return. But a skirmish on the sidelines led to CHS being flagged for a similar violation as the ball remained at the 49.

Facing a second and 12 from the 47 to open the fourth quarter, Morrow found Hayes, who took the pass and turned it into an 18-yard gain to the HHS 35. On third and six from the 31, Beaufort grabbed a Morrow offering and took it to the 15 for a first down. A dropped pass, on what looked to be a possible touchdown, brought on second down.

Following another CHS holding call, the hosts faced a second and 17 from the 22. Morrow hit Jenkins for a gain of nine on second down and then found Belton, out of the backfield for seven to set up a fourth and one from the six. Employing their jumbo package, CHS inserted Malone into the backfield and the team’s starting safety was stopped behind the line as the Red Foxes swarmed him in the backfield with 9:01 remaining.

Camden would have two more chances before this one would end. The first came when a Red Fox player gave a throat slash after Morrow was injured on an incompletion on third and 18 from the 40. One fourth and two from the 25, the Red Fox secondary batted down a Josh Council pass to take over on downs.

The Dogs’ final gasp came when a 12-yard punt left them 52 yards away from the end zone with 2:58 remaining. But Morrow’s second and eight pass from midfield was tipped near the line of scrimmage and grabbed by Scarborough, whose pick sealed the deal.

Neal said he was proud of the effort his team gave in the second half, but was also disappointed by costly mistakes made in all three facets of the game.

“We wanted to attack those lead blockers who were leveraging us. We also wanted to tackle better on the perimeter,” he said of the goals in the second half. “Offensively, we had some things that we thought we could go to and we did, but we just couldn’t make enough plays.

“We also had holding calls which we hadn’t had all year. I’m sure that we were holding, but we haven’t had that all year. It’s tough when you have people playing two positions and people playing positions that they are not used to playing.”

If there is a silver lining to this disappointing loss, Neal said that it will be that come today, his players will learn from their mistakes.

“There will be a lot of teaching and a lot of learning about ourselves from this tape,” he said. “It was unfortunate the way we played in the first half. Obviously, we didn’t have them prepared and ready to go. But, I’m pretty proud of our guys. Our guys are trying to become special.”

 

Bulldog Bites: CHS wide receiver Tim Dinkins was carted off the field after sustaining an injury to his right leg following a one-yard catch with 6:37 left in the game. The senior was taken to KershawHealth immediately … Morrow completed 18 of his 32 pass attempts for 222 yards. His two scoring passes, both to Jenkins, gave his 17 on the season … Jenkins has now caught nine touchdown passes, the most for him in one season … Belton led the CHS rushing game with 54 yards on nine carries … The low-scoring game was in stark contrast to what may have been expected from the two longtime rivals as HHS came into the contest averaging better than 32 points per game while the dogs averaged scoring better than 29 per contest coming into Friday’s pairing … This game got chippy, if not dirty, on several occasions. In the end, Hartsville racked up 110 yards in penalties on 10 infractions while Camden was whistled eight times for 70 yards.

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