Dukes show growth

Published 1:11 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Cumberland County High School varsity football team’s 28-18 season-opening road loss to Charles City County High School on Friday was a tale of two halves if there ever were one, and despite the loss, the Dukes gave their coaches and fans reason to be excited.

“The first half was about as frustrating as it could be, because we did absolutely nothing right,” Cumberland Head Coach Edgar Knapp said. “But the good part about the game was, in the second half, we came back. For the first time in the two-plus years that I’ve been the head coach at Cumberland, we mounted a legitimate comeback where the kids just said, ‘You know what, we’re not going to lose. We’re not going to beat ourselves. We’re going to go out there and make them beat us.’ And that’s pretty much what we did.”

The coach said the Dukes played about as badly as they could play in the first half, turning the ball over three times — two fumbles and one interception — to help put them in a 20-0 hole at the half.

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Knapp said that during halftime, “We all said, ‘Look, who’s beating us right now? Is it Charles City, or is it us?’ And we basically all agreed that it was us. We went back out and played about as good as we could play in the third quarter. We scored on both of our drives and shut Charles City down to make it 20-12.”

The Cumberland defense kept the momentum going, holding the Panthers again.

“They punted, and we muffed the punt, which they recovered on a very short field and then scored,” Knapp said. “We came back to score again on a long pass — Darius Kyle to JaQuan Brown. It was a 93-yard pass.”

But the Dukes ran out of time.

“We had to play perfectly and have a mistake-free second half,” the coach said, “and of course, that happens, but it doesn’t happen as much as you’d like.”

Evaluating what went wrong in the first half, Knapp said, “ I don’t know (whether) it was just, ‘Hey, it’s the jitters of being a first game,’ or if we just thought we could go in and just do whatever we wanted to do. It was just one of those circumstances where everything that could go wrong did go wrong.”

Defense was on the list of things that Cumberland did not do well through two quarters.

“They were able to get the corner on us,” Knapp said of the Panthers. “We made some adjustments at halftime that took that away. And (our) defense was 100 percent better in the second half as well.”

Senior Jonathan Langhorne led the Dukes on defense with 11 total tackles, including eight solo tackles and three tackles for loss. Junior K.J. Copeland made some key plays as did the secondary, including senior Christian Allen.

On offense, seniors Darius Kyle, Darron Ridley and JaQuan Brown provided highlights by scoring touchdowns.

In addition to running for 34 yards and a score, Kyle went 7-for-12 passing for 139 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Cumberland (0-1) has a bye this week and returns to action next week.