Errors Thwart Dukes
In addition to the visiting Appomattox Raiders, the Cumberland High School football team saw three familiar foes in Friday night's 46-26 loss.
Turnovers, untimely penalties and inexperience on the lines.
In the end, the three worked to undo a comeback attempt, and pushed the Dukes to 1-2 on the season.
“It's the same story,” said CHS head coach Michael Sutton. “We got behind early, and when we got some momentum, we had a few mistakes that took us back out of the game. Instead of keeping our composure, we hit the panic button.”
The Dukes gave up 26 second quarter points to dig itself into a 26-13 hole at the intermission.
But unlike in its earlier home loss to William Campbell, the night didn't really start out that bad for the Dukes. Cumberland took an early 8-0 lead. C.J. Anderson recovered a fumble in the first quarter, and quarterback Devonte Booker put the Dukes on the board with a 12-yard run that gave CHS an 8-0 lead, after a June Davenport two-point conversion.
Cumberland also had a shot to extend the lead, but for a dropped pass in scoring range on a drive that wound up producing no points.
But fumbles, penalties and interceptions started to mount, as the Raiders scored 26 quick points, before Booker found Shaquille Warren for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 1.7 seconds left to play in the half to cut the Raiders' lead to 26-13 at the break.
Cumberland cut further into the lead in the third quarter. Booker found Sims for a 41-yard touchdown pass with 6:04 to play in the third to cut the Dukes' deficit to 26-20. But turnovers started to mount for the Dukes. Appomattox regained the momentum with 50.6 seconds remaining to give the Raiders a 34-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Cumberland cut the lead back to eight points at 34-26 with 7:42 left to play on a 24-yard touchdown run by Booker, but Appomattox responded a minute later to put the game away on a 43-yard touchdown run by Josh Wilson a little over a minute later.
“Our youth showed,” said Sutton. “One thing we've got to learn is that when you face some adversity, you have to hit it in the mouth and keep going. Eventually, they're going to get that point.”
Booker was 11-22 passing for 193 yards and two touchdowns passing against two interceptions.
Sims was the Dukes' leading receiver with 117 yards on five catches and a touchdown, while Warren had four grabs for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Booker rushed nine times for 42 yards and two touchdowns, but Cumberland continued to find a consistent running game.
Safety Ben Ricker led the Dukes with 13 tackles, while Anderson had ten.
“You don't want your safety to lead your defense in tackles,” said Sutton. “That usually makes for a long night.
“I know what we can do, and I feel the kids do too, but we've got to find the consistency. We're to the point, where we've got to get better. I do think our non-district schedule will help us down the road, but we need to continue to improve. Wins and losses aren't a concern until we get to district play, but if we continue to progress, we won't have to worry about wins. That will start to take care of itself.”
Cumberland's road will get no easier, however. The Dukes will travel to defending Group A, Division 1 State Champion Altavista on Friday night for a 7 p.m. contest.