SILVER SPRING TOWNSHIP — It was abradent, it was grueling, it was a typical clash of Mid-Penn Commonwealth giants in which nearly every play carried more weight than a typical regular season game should.
Double that intensity in the fourth quarter of Central Dauphin’s visit to Cumberland Valley, when nearly a half-dozen fourth-quarter plays Friday night seemingly spelled a disastrous end for one team or the other — an offsides-turned-false-start call that led to a CD unsportsmanlike conduct flag, a crushing sack of CV’s Alex Kovach, the Rams’ Malachi Bowman fumble, two busted CV fourth-and-goal attempts. Both teams had reasons to leave miserable.
But only the Eagles did. The Rams won a bruising 13-7 heavyweight bout at Harry Chapman Field, winning their third straight in this series in which six of the last seven have ended by a margin of seven points or fewer.
“It’s a typical CD-CV game where you battle, both teams are battling, playing hard. A couple mistakes here and there cost you,” Eagles head coach Mike Whitehead said. “It happens. We’ll learn from it, we just can’t let this game define our season.”
CV (2-2, 0-1) will almost certainly go right to a pair of drives that were snuffed out inside the 10 late in the game when they turn on the game film to dissect this loss.
After 15 plays stretching the second half of the third quarter and the early fourth, the Eagles found themselves facing fourth-and-goal at the 1. They went with a three-back set. But the RBs collided, and Maximos Dell’Anno stumbled into a carry that died for a 6-yard loss in what looked like perhaps their last best chance.
Dell’Anno, displaying impressive maturity, immediately took the blame after the game.
“I ran the wrong play,” said Dell’Anno, who was cleared earlier Friday to play after nursing a high ankle sprain the past two games that limited him in Week 2 and kept him out entirely last week. “I couldn’t hear it right, and I ran what I thought it was. And then I was the only one that ran that wrong, so that’s 100% on me.”
But the Rams gifted the Eagles a second and third life. Bowman fumbled at the CV 10 on the ensuing drive with 7:54 left. The Eagles’ next drive ended with a punt, though.
Then, facing a fourth-and-1, the Rams (2-2, 1-0) offense lined up trying to draw the Eagles offsides. It seemingly worked, with the d-line dejected after the officials threw the yellow hanky.
But to the majority of the stadium’s surprise, the refs determined CD flinched early, setting off an irate Greg McNamee. The result was two penalties for nearly 20 yards, pinning the Rams deep in their own territory. And a punt that dribbled to the CD 38, giving the home team an excellent last shot with 3:03 left and two timeouts.
Revitalized, the Eagles again drove inside the 10, but again they left empty handed, this time for good.
Dell’Anno took yet another buck sweep to the right on third down from the 7, but the Rams were ready. Right before being dragged down by his sore ankle, though, he got off a heave — video showed his knees probably down, but the play was not whistled dead — to a wide open Logan Ramper in the front corner. But the tight end was unable to hold onto what would’ve been his second game-winning touchdown in three weeks.
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“I think both of them were on me,” Dell’Anno said, adding that his flip pass was something Whitehead told him to look out for before the play. “And that last one I think I held onto the play for too long, I just couldn’t get it in. … It’s a tough situation right there at the end.”
On the next play, Kovach put too much juice on an intended jump ball to Ramper that sailed several yards out of the back of the end zone. The Rams took over with seconds left and sealed the win with a knee.
“You gotta make those in these games,” Whitehead said. “You gotta make them, and we didn’t. But we’ll learn from it and get better for next game.”
The Eagles had roughly three quarters with their four-headed running attack intact. Dell’Anno’s return paired him with fullback Derik Sauve, while Kellan Walker and Dontey Rogan rotated in as the other pair. But Sauve was carried off late in the game with a leg injury that left him in crutches, and Dell’Anno’s nagging ankle was twisted on that second-last play.
Dell’Anno suggested he felt nearly back to normal, but he was missing some of the burst and cutting ability that makes him CV’s most dynamic offensive weapon and a shutdown corner as well. He didn’t express concern about his status next week.
“I wouldn’t worry about it,” he said when asked about the injuries to the group. “We got a deep team, we got a lot of kids that can carry the ball. Everyone’s gonna get experience, it’s for the good of the group.”
The senior led the night with 20 carries, 90 yards and CV’s only score, a 7-yard sweep in the second quarter that made it 7-3. The Eagles finished with 145 yards on 50 carries, but that’s skewed by Kovach’s five sacks for negative-35 yards, at least two at the hands of the relentless Marques Holton.
Holton’s TD late in the first half actually proved the difference. He plowed through from a yard out to make it 13-7, capping CD’s 10-point run in the quarter. A pair of Ahren Stauffer field goals accounted for the other scores.
TOUCHDOWN: @MaxDellAnno sweeps left and rolls in untouched thanks to some exquisite blocking from Sauve and Ramper.7-3 @CVSDeagles 11:53 left in the half after the 7-yard score. MDA with 18 yards in 4 touches that drive. And Kovach with a couple nice passes under pressure. pic.twitter.com/tKw4Qv2N3o
— Jake Adams (@jakeadams520) September 13, 2019
TOUCHDOWN: Holton drives it through from a yard out. @CDAthletics goes back up 13-7 with 2:04 to play in the half.A CV facemask helped set up the 1st and goal situation a few plays earlier. pic.twitter.com/KNoGO6lAg3
— Jake Adams (@jakeadams520) September 13, 2019
CD’s Max Morsey was 7-of-14 for 123 yards passing, but all of those came in the first half. And Timmy Smith led the Rams with 10 carries for 88 yards and two receptions for 22 stripes.
CARLISLE — Don’t let the final score fool you.