Effingham Daily News
Of all the days to have a bad day, the Cumberland football team picked perhps the worst one possible on Saturday.
Not much went right for the Pirates in a 25-0 loss to Carrollton in a first-round IHSA Class 1A playoff game.
“We made some mistakes that we hadn’t made all year,” Pirates coach Todd Butler said. “We picked the worst time to have our worst game of the season.”
Cumberland, in the playoffs for the seventh time in nine seasons, finished with a 6-4 record.
Carrollton improved to 9-1 and advanced to the second round, where it will face Sidell.
Despite the lopsided score, the Pirates were very much in contention until things started to get away midway through the third quarter. But once the avalanche started, there was no stopping it.
Carollton, which was the No. 3 seed in the bottom half of the bracket, didn’t jump on top until just before halftime. Jordan Harr capped a 10-play, 56-yard drive with a 22-yard field goal 33 seconds before halftime to put the Hawks on top 3-0.
On the play prior to the field goal, the Pirates’ Jamin Repp nearly thwarted the drive, just missing an interception on a third-down play.
“For the most part, we had things going the way we wanted in the first half,” Butler said. “We knew Carrollton had an explosive offense and we were doing a good job against them. We didn’t feel like the field goal before halftime was that big of a deal.”
Each team went three-and-out on its first possession of the second half before the Hawks finally broke it open by scoring on two straight possessions later in the third quarter.
Carollton faced a first-and-23 after holding penalties on back-to-back plays, but was let off the hook when quarterback Jacob Smith found Harr, who had gotten past the Pirates secondary, wide open for a touchdown that made it 9-0 after the PAT kick failed with 5:41 left in the third.
The Pirates again went three-and-out before the Hawks delivered a knockout blow. Facing a third-and-13 from their own 26, Smith escaped pressure in the pocket and threw a short pass to Luke Palan, who broke a pair of tackles, made some nifty moves and broke free for a 74-yard scoring play. Again the conversion failed, but Carrollton was up 15-0 with 2:19 left in the third.
“Cumberland did a good job against us defensively in the first half,” Hawks coach Nick Flowers said. “We made a few minor adjustments at halftime, but it’s not like we tried to re-invent the wheel. We just executed better in the second half, and some kids made some plays for us.”
Cumberland never really came close to threatening the rest of the way, and the Hawks put it out of reach when Clay Duba scored on a 9-yard run up the middle early in the fourth quarter. Duba also ran for the two-point conversion that made it 23-0, and a safety after a bad snap on a punt provided the final margin.
While the Pirates had some success on defense — particularly in the first half — their offense never did sustain any momentum. They were held to just 99 yards of total offense and five first downs. In the second half, they produced a mere 35 yards and one first down. Their deepest offensive possession — early in the second period, reached the Hawks’ 33-yard line before stalling. Cumberland was never able to cross midfield in the second half.
Jonathan Duniphan, one of the Pirates 10 seniors, rushed for 46 yards on 18 carries, and Holden Elwood picked up 29 on eight totes. Quarterback Monte Wolke was under pressure nearly every time he attempted to pass and hit on just 2 of 9 passes for 36 yards. The Pirates’ biggest offensive play was a 25-yard pass from Wolke to Kole Butler.
“It’s tough to see it end, especially for the seniors,” Butler said. “I’ve been following this group since they were in the third grade.”