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Dukes Falter In Second Half

Unlike the previous two weeks, the Cumberland High School football team managed to put together a strong first half performance against visiting Altavista last Friday night.

It was the second half that caused problems for the Dukes, as Altavista battled back from a halftime deficit to take a 44-19 victory.

“We came out fired up and ready to play this week,” said CHS head coach Michael Sutton. “Our mental preparation was what I have been asking for in terms of coming out strong in the first half. However, we didn't carry it over into the second half.”

Altavista quarterback Rick Adams put the Colonels on the board first with a 16-yard drive on their first offensive series. The lead was short lived, as Devonta Booker returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to the Altavista eight. Booker later scored on a bootleg from three years out to tie the game at 7-7.

Altavista drove into Cumberland (1-2) territory in the second quarter, and got as deep as the eight-yard-line, before the Dukes' defense stiffened to hold the Colonels to a field goal. The combination of tailbacks Justus Dowdy and Ben Ricker moved the Dukes into scoring position, and Booker then found wide receiver Bryant Winbush for a 15-yard touchdown pass just before the half to give CHS a 13-10 lead at the intermission.

Altavista scored on its opening drive of the second half, and took the lead for good at 17-13. Cumberland was unable to answer. The Colonels capitalized on two Cumberland interceptions and a botched snap on a punt attempt in the end zone for a touchdown. Booker did find wide receiver Deondre Brooks on the final play of the game for a ten-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 44-19, but it was about the only bright spot for an offense that sputtered for much of the third and fourth quarters.

“We simply did not recover after giving up that first touchdown of the second half,” said Sutton. “I have stressed that good teams overcome adversity when they are faced with it. Tackles were missed and blocks were not made in the second half. Again, the boys didn't give up, but we've got to be consistent – not good for one half and then poor for the second.”

Booker was 10-14 passing for 135 yards and two touchdowns. He had four rushes for 20 yards and a touchdown, and two kickoff returns for 93 yards.

Winbush had three catches for 61 yards and a touchdown, while Denodre Brooks hauled in two catches for 20 yards and a score.

Dowdy had three receptions for 24 yards, gained 46 yards on 14 carries and accounted for seven tackles on defense.

Ricker accounted for 45 yards rushing on four carries.

Robert O'Conner had seven tackles and two sacks, while Travon Royall had five tackles.

Cumberland will host Randolph-Henry on Friday at 7 p.m. in the James River District opener for both teams.

“We have to realize it's going to take four solid quarters to get a win,” said Sutton. “It's a lesson we've got to understand quickly, because the new season [district play] starts this Friday with Randolph-Henry.”