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CMA rises to the occasion against Pride

Posted: October 12, 2010 3:11 p.m.
Updated: October 13, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Oh, if the walls in the Camden Military Academy football locker room could talk. What a tale they might be able to tell.

With his Spartans trailing visiting Carolina Pride, 35-19, on Saturday afternoon, CMA head coach Will Rice had some choice words for his team. The result was a 42-point second half explosion which led to a 61-43 win over the visitors from the Charlotte area.

The victory, which came after a bye week, gave the Spartans a 3-1 record heading into Friday’s game at Providence Day.

When asked what led to his team’s second half about-face, Rice smiled and chose his words carefully.

“Really, it was just a little tweak on defense. It was really nothing major,” he said. “It was just a good halftime … speech, I guess. It was a ‘rally the troops’ type of a situation.”

The hosts still trailed, 35-33, after three quarters, but they owned the final 12 minutes outscoring the Pride, 28-7.

“In the fourth quarter,” Rice said, “they were tired. We were in better shape than they were because we wore them down with the fast pace of our spread offense.”

CMA rolled up more than 400 yards in offense with quarterback Malcolm Kelly clicking on 18 of his 28 pass attempts for 223 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for three scores. Kelly’s favorite target was Trey Dean, who had 10 catches for 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Tailback Bruce Smith paced the ground game with 24 carries for 147 yards and two trips into the end zone.

“The offense was clicking all day,” Rice said. “We shot ourselves in the foot one time in the first half, other than that, it was an offensive explosion. Our offense was great all day, but in the fourth quarter, they were on fire.”

Trailing by a pair heading into the final quarter, Kelly hooked up with Dean for a five-yard scoring pass to give the Spartans the 39-35 lead. Minutes later, Kelly called his own number and went in from three yards out. Smith’s two-point conversion run then made it 47-35.

The defense would then get into the scoring act when Nick Prezioso stepped in front of a Pride pass and would score on a 20-yard interception return. Drew Goshorn booted the kick to hike the lead to 54-35. After a Pride score chopped the deficit to 54-43, CMA closed the scoring with a 31-yard Smith run and Goshorn’s kick.

“We had a very good game plan going in, offensively, which we did not deviate from, at all. We did what we wanted to do,” Rice said. “When a drive broke down on offense, we did it to ourselves. They didn’t stop us.”

The CMA defense also woke up from its first half slumber in holding the guests to 13 yards rushing in the third quarter and minus (-22) in the final 12 minutes. This came after a first half in which CP rolled up 330 yards in offense and just 50 after that. “I think our offense fed off our defense, which stiffened their back, finally,” Rice said.

After the Pride opened the game with a touchdown run, the Spartans responded with a four-yard scoring run by Smith for a 7-6 lead. Before the end of the first quarter, the hosts received a six-yard scoring run from Kelly to go on top, 13-7.

A seven-yard Kelly-to-Dean scoring pass was the only thing which interrupted CP’s 28-6 second quarter run as the guests carried a 35-19 lead into the intermission.

“We were sleepwalking on defense in the first half. I don’t know what the reason for that was, but we were giving up big play after big play,” Rice said. “It was like we were in a fog defensively.”

CMA got the ball to start the second half and went down and scored with Kelly capping the march on a two-yard keeper. A Kelly-to-Dean pass on the two-point conversion made it 35-27. The Spartans closed to within a pair when Jon Crye hauled in a four-yard scoring toss from Kelly in the third quarter.

“We had a big hit on defense to stop them in the third quarter,” Rice said. “After that, everything fell into place and our defense started playing extremely well.”

Rice said his disposition changed greatly from halftime to the end of the game. He credited his players for being able to turn things around in their first home game of the season.

“It would have been easy to lay down and die being down 35-19 at halftime after being up 13-7 after the first quarter. It was gut-check time,” he said. “We talked to our guys about stepping up to the challenge in the second half.

“As disappointed as I was at halftime, it was exactly opposite after the second half. I was extremely proud of them in the second half for the way they fought back.”

The comeback was the second in the Spartans’ last two starts. While proud of his team for their playing well as the game goes on, Rice would like to see his team get off to better starts.

“We rallied in the second half against McBee two weeks ago and we rallied in the second half (against Carolina Pride),” he said. “Now, we just need to play a full four quarters on both sides of the ball.”

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