Perfect no more

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 15, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Sumter didn’t show a whole lot of variety on offense against region foe Central Christian Thursday night.

But what they did do, they executed very well.

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The Eagles (2-2, 1-2 Class A Region 1) utilized just a handful of running plays but still found ways to rip past CCA for a 43-30 win.

The Eagles’ bread and butter was a stretch play around the left side that got Hunter Spidle a 228-yard rushing night. He ran for 151 yards in the first half alone and ended the night with a pair of touchdowns.

“I was a little surprised at how well we were able to run the football,” said Sumter coach Bob Taylor. “We got (CCA) chasing a little bit, and I thought that played into it. This is probably the best performance our offense has had this year.”

Spidle, Joseph Reed and James Gibson combined for 478 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

The Warriors (3-1, 3-1) continually overpursued the Eagles’ misdirection and were beaten for several long plays. Sumter had six runs of 20 yards or more during the game.

CCA also committed several costly penalties, six of which resulted in Sumter first downs.

“We just got outcoached,” said CCA coach Lee Holladay. “They were very prepared to play. We just couldn’t stop their running game. I thought we could, but we couldn’t catch up with them. Of course, that’s not a slouch that beat us.

“I thought we hustled, we just weren’t very good on our technique.”

One of the few bright spots for CCA was a brilliant second-half performance by running back Eric Curtis, who rushed for 79 yards in the final two quarters.

Curtis’ first touchdown of the night came on a 52-yard scamper during which he broke at least three tackles behind the line of scrimmage, reversed field and skipped down Sumter’s sideline to get into the end zone. A successful 2-point conversion cut the Eagles’ lead to 28-22 with 8:56 left in the third and momentarily brought life back to the CCA sideline.

Curtis again found the end zone on a similar play late in the fourth, going in from six yards out after running for what seemed like 30. The touchdown was the last score of the game. Curtis ended the night with 90 yards on seven carries.

CCA struck the first blow on the opening possession of the game when Stanley Spencer ran in a 40-yard touchdown.

Sumter answered back on its next drive when Reed took a counter play for 20 yards. Caine Conway’s missed extra point kept CCA’s lead at 7-6.

Spencer called again, this time on a 63-yard touchdown with 3:54 left in the first. He ran for 132 yards on nine carries in the first half.

On Sumter’s first play of the ensuing drive, Spidle hit paydirt from 74 yards away. Reed’s 2-point run tied the game at 14.

The only passing touchdown of the night came on Reed’s 8-yard connection with Patrick Castleman with 7:57 left in the first half.

Curtis broke up a 2-point conversion pass, and Sumter took a 20-14 lead into the locker room.

Sumter scored on each of its first three possessions of the second half. A 17-yard run from Spidle, a 29-yarder from Reed and Conway’s 1-yard quarterback keeper helped the Eagles build a 43-22 lead with 9:18 left in the game.

Reed ran for 164 yards on 18 carries, and Gibson had 86 yards on 16 carries.

“CCA has got a good football team,” Taylor said. “We were a little shell-shocked at first coming out of the gate. But we played hard, and we had a lot of success with the offense. This was a big win for us.”

The Warriors, on the other hand, have been knocked from their perch at the top of the region.

They now have to regroup and find a way to continue what had been a dream season before Thursday’s loss.

“We’ve just got to get up and go,” Holladay said. “It takes four wins to get into the playoffs, and after you get into the playoffs anything can happen. I’m not making any excuses. We’re 3-1 right now, and how many people would like to be 3-1?’