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Bears struggle against CAL, lose 41-28

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By John Shindlebower

On a perfect night for football, in front of a large homecoming crowd, it’s hard to imagine the Bears getting off to a better start than they did against Christian Academy of Louisville as Erico Smith took the opening kick off up the middle, hit a gap, then escaped from the mass enroute to a 86-yard touchdown. But perfection didn’t last as miscues and missed opportunities paved the way for CAL to leave Taylorsville Friday night with a 41-28 victory.

CAL responded to Smith’s touchdown with an impressive drive of their own that ended with a short touchdown run to knot the score at seven. When Spencer County took possession, their drive was stalled by penalties, and the tone for the night had been set.

“Flags hurt us on offense and missed tackles hurt us on defense,” said Spencer County Coach Matt Powenski. “We missed on some opportunities to score.”

Powenski had voiced concern last week over the unique formations that CAL liked to run, but said his team was prepared for the alignments, but just didn’t execute.

CAL was able to run the ball effectively, but was helped by poor tackling.

“We were prepared to stop the zone read, we had seven men in the box and just didn’t make the plays we needed to to stop them,” said Powenski.

But even with the struggles, some special teams play kept the Bears close. After CAL took advantage of a Spencer County interception and scored two plays later to go ahead 14-7, Cameron Smith took a kick-off into CAL territory, but once again, penalties stalled the Bears’ drive. However, the defense stiffened, forcing a punt, and this time Cameron Smith field the punt at his own 25-yard-line and went the distance to tie the score again.

“Our special teams played well Friday and we feel that they can be effective for the rest of the season,” said Powenski.

The second quarter saw the teams exchanging punts until the Bears were able to drive down the field and on a first down and goal, sophomore quarterback Kevin Hume lofted a pass to the back corner of the end zone to Bryant Fowler to give the Bears the lead. Tyler Calvert’s successful kick put Spencer County ahead 21-14, which they took to halftime.

While the Hume to Fowler connection has been effective this year, it was only the second pass of the half, and Powenski said that was intentional in an attempt to slow the pace of the game.

“We were trying to limit their possessions on offense,” said the coach. “We felt we could drive the ball at will on them, but penalties stopped us from doing what we wanted.”

In the third quarter, CAL took advantage of a good return and drove down the field, mostly on running plays, to score for the 21-21 tie.

Spencer County appeared ready to answer again after another Cameron Smith kickoff return took the ball to the 35 yard line of CAL, and following a nice Erico Smith run that put the Bears on the 17-yard-line, penalties struck again. The drive stalled and CAL took over. On the first play of their next drive, CAL struck with a pass-play that covered 85 yards and a score, giving the visitors a 28-21 lead with just over four minutes left in the quarter.

The Bears offense sputtered on their next possession and CAL struck again early in the fourth quarter, scoring on a short pass play to jump ahead 34-21.

Following another futile offensive series, Spencer County was forced to punt and time was running out. However, the defense made a big play to recover a fumble, giving the Bears new life. They took advantage of the turnover, quickly moving down field and this time Hume found Erico Smith for a short touchdown pass, and the Bears found themselves down only six, at 34-28 with over six minutes remaining.

Spencer County’s defense put up a good stand and forced a CAL punt, but the offense was again plagued by penalties and facing a 4th and 18 deep in their own territory, were forced to punt with about four minutes remaining.

CAL then erased any hopes of a repeat of the previous week’s amazing come-from-behind victory over Western Hills. The visitors scored just under three minutes remaining to jump ahead 41-28, dropping Spencer County to 2-3 on the season.

Powenski said some injuries and inexperience have contributed to some of the team’s problems so far this year. “We have had to change personnel because of some injuries and we haven’t had enough time to adjust to our new positions,” he said. “Depth is a problem for us and we need to adapt to it. We have some younger players that need to step up and come to practice on a regular basis.”

For the night, Cameron Smith had 76 yards on 14 caries, Erico Smith had 43 yards on 10 carries and Hume was 7 of 18 passing for 42 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. On defense, Micthell Gusman led the way with 8 tackles, while Cameron Smith had 7. Tyler Stephens had four tackles and three pass deflections.

The Bears don’t get much of a break in the coming weeks, as they face three tough teams in a row, starting this Friday night when they host North Oldham.

“They’re one of the toughest teams on our schedule,” said Powenski. “They are sound in all aspects of the game. We need to play better than we did on Friday if we want to win.”