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CU defense wears down in second half
Nov 08, 2006 12:00 am
In retrospect, Bethel's 14-play, 95-yard third-quarter drive did more than just break a tie during Saturday's game at Lindsey Donnell Stadium.
It also wore down the Cumberland defense while the Bulldog offense bogged down in the second half of Bethel's 28-7 Mid-South Conference conquest.
Adrain Smith finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to break a 7-7 tie midway through the third quarter He later had a 4-yard score midway through the fourth to finish the game and ended the sunny afternoon with 123 yards on 18 carries.
Terrance Bell led No. 10 Bethel with 143 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. He scored on a 4-yard run in the second quarter and an 8-yard shovel pass from Ronnie Janovich in the fourth as the Wildcats returned to McKenzie 8-2 for the season and 4-0 in the MSC.
"Their long drive they had in the third quarter... it was a bunch of plays and it took just about the whole third quarter," Cumberland coach Dewayne Alexander said after his Bulldogs dropped to 3-6, 1-3 with a road trip to Belhaven left in his initial season on CU Square. "That drive took a lot out of our defense. But our defense at least – one thing we asked them this week was no big plays, make them bleed slow – in that drive we did that. It's still a one-score game. Third quarter's over, we just need to drive offensively. We moved the ball well in the first half.
"Our first two possessions of the second half were three and outs. That put our defense back out on the field. We needed at least a drive after that long drive they had to keep our defense off the field and we weren't able to put one of those together to where we could get our defense rested."
That situation was aggravated by injuries to linebackers Aaron Cothran, one of a handful of CU seniors honored before their final home game, and Lebanon's Matt Boles.
The first half was evenly matched as Bethel had just eight more yards (169-161) of total offense. But the final 446-216 margin showed just how lopsided the game became in the second half.
"If you had asked me a formula for the game, it was just the way we wanted it in the first half," Alexander said. "We were keeping their offense off the field. We were getting first downs. We changed field position several times.
"I'm still disappointed in some of the penalties we're having – snap infractions and offsides, things like that – that are really frustrating on third and 1... And a fumbled snap too, little miscues like that are hard to overcome against a good football team.
"But I thought our guys played hard in the ballgame."
After Bethel broke a scoreless ties on the third play of the second quarter, Cumberland came back with an 11-play, 66-yard march, finishing it off with a 14-yard reverse around the left side by Travis Carter, the speedy freshman who led the Bulldogs with 86 yards on 14 carries.
Carter, from Nashville's McGavock High, lost a 64-yard touchdown sweep in the fourth quarter to a penalty.
Moments earlier, Cumberland freshman quarterback Matt Eads threw a deep fade pattern which was intercepted by Donald Lightfoot. After a long return, Lightfoot fumbled and Carter recovered at the Bulldog 36-yard line, 1 yard from the original line of scrimmage.
That turnover was Bethel's only giveaway of the day. Alexander was counting on some Wildcat coughups which never materialized.
"They played a sound game," Alexander said of the Wildcats. "And they had some penalties that hurt them a drive or two and they were able to overcome those. But they did not turn the football over.
"We felt like going into the game, we would have to play a turnover-free game and they would need to have two or three. And if that would have occured, the score could have been different.
"But they have a fine team. There's a reason they're one of the top-10 teams in the country. They'll represent our conference well in the playoffs, I'm sure."
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at email@example.com.