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Dukes fall 33-16 to Chatham

Cumberland County High School’s varsity football team is still in search of its first win, but it successfully recovered from its 63-point homecoming loss to navigate a far more competitive fight Friday night.

The Dukes trailed 27-16 at halftime against host Chatham High School and ended up falling 33-16.

“We improved a lot, especially defensively,” Cumberland Head Coach Ed Knapp said. “The whole story is, we threw three interceptions in the end zone, and we got beat deep five times. That’s the whole game right there.”

Offensively, the Dukes were able to move the ball up and down the field, but then they would turn it over.

Then on defense, the Dukes struggled in a new way.

“One of the things that we’ve done well through the year has been pass coverage, and we had a total breakdown in our pass coverage that allowed them to throw the ball deep fives times and score,” Knapp said.

As the coach indicated before, however, there were key improvements elsewhere on that side of the ball.

“We contained their run pretty well, I thought, played pretty well on defense,” Knapp said. “Our tackling was worlds better than it’s been since the beginning of the year…”

Scoring for Cumberland was junior K.J. Copeland, with a three-yard run, and senior Keyshawn Diming, with an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Senior running back Darron Ridley led the Dukes with 14 carries for 79 yards, and he also recorded six total tackles on defense.

Though Cumberland is 0-8, Knapp was pleased at what the competitiveness against Chatham said about his team.

“I think that says a lot about the mountain we try to climb here in the James River District, being the smallest school against some schools that are pretty doggone big and are able to have bigger programs just simply because they have more kids,” he said.

The Dukes visit Bluestone High School on Friday at 7 p.m., and they close the regular season Nov. 3 at home.