Effingham Daily News
Cumberland played more like itself on its final two scoring drives than it had in the three previous quarters, which sounds far-fetched given that the Pirates scored 34 points before the fourth quarter on Friday.
Cumberland pieced together a 10-play, 58-yard scoring drive to regain the lead with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, capped off by a Holden Elwood touchdown run.
Then, the Pirates forced a three-and-out against Red Hill and melted the clock, finishing a 13-play, 71-yard touchdown drive with less than two minutes left, clinching its 50-36 win.
Cumberland quarterback Monte Wolke connected with Ethan Kemper on 19-yard touchdown pass that finished the team's 71-yard drive, which was Wolke's only completion of the game and Red Hill head coach Billy Gray said was the perfect play call.
“I expected the play-action pass probably a series sooner than (Cumberland) ran it,” Gray said. “We were giving it to them, asking them to throw it so we had a chance at the ball.”
The play-action pass came at a time when Cumberland needed it, facing a third down and 11 yards to go on the play, while the way the Pirates got there was much more settled down.
Cumberland head coach Kevin Maynard said he thought about pulling back the reins of the offense in the second quarter so the game wouldn't get out of control, but risked taking away his team's momentum.
“In the third quarter, we had to put our foot down after we got the lead again,” Maynard said. “We played more of our game, running the football.”
No play was more evident of that, Maynard said, than Wolke picking up a first down by inches on a fourth-and-three play, during Cumberland's last scoring drive.
Aside from picking up the fourth down, Wolke rushed for four touchdowns and 204 yards in the game, which Maynard said was an aspect of his offense that he wanted to stress in the game.
“We added a new wrinkle to our offense, wanting to give Monte a chance to be more of a runner,” Maynard said. “It allowed us a chance to make those big plays.”
Maynard's adjusted game plan caught Red Hill by surprise, as Gray said he didn't expect Cumberland's quarterback to play as big of a role in the Pirates offense.
“We didn't expect him to run that much,” Gray said. “He's obviously stronger than what we had on film, but if you can't tackle, you can't win football games.”
Wolke's first three touchdowns were for at least 33 yards, with his longest being a 47-yard run early in the second quarter. He scored his fourth rushing touchdown on a eight-yard carry before halftime.
Red Hill's offense nearly matched Cumberland score for score, trailing 34-28 at halftime and taking a lead, 36-34, in the third quarter on Dalton Murray's 65-yard touchdown pass – one of his three scores.
However, Red Hill turned the ball over three times on fumbles that gave Cumberland extra offensive possessions, including one to start the second half.
Last week, Red Hill forced seven turnovers in a win over Palestine, but Friday's game was different as Cumberland went mistake-free.
“Our game was coming, I was sure of it, and it happened tonight,” Gray said.
Cumberland improves to 2-4 overall with the win and 2-2 in the Little Illini Eastern division and Maynard said he hopes his offense can keep rolling next week against Albion.
“I hope with a game like this, putting up those points will kick start us the rest of the three weeks,” Maynard said. “We're approaching every game like a playoff game, and I'm really excited about the fact that our offense came alive tonight.”
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Red Hill 12 16 8 0 36
Cumberland 22 12 0 16 50
Rushing: Cumberland: Wolke 19-204-4, Elwood 11-43-1, Martin 12-94-0; Red Hill: Moore 6-85-0, Murray 17-36-1, Adams 7-42-1
Passing: Cumberland: Wolke 1-3-19, TD; Red Hill: Murray 6-11-214, 3 TD
Receiving: Cumberland: Kemper 1-19-1; Red Hill: Ramsaran 3-138-3