Saturday, August 30, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Carlisle struggles in early jamboree

Leader sportswriter

The Carlisle Bison struggled at times on both sides of the ball in each of their benefit scrimmage games with Stuttgart, Rison and Dumas on Tuesday at Fred C. Hardke Field, but the biggest thing Bison coach Jack Keith will focus on for the remainder of the preseason will be ironing out the wrinkles in his defense.

Despite some costly mistakes in each of the three brief scrimmage games played, Carlisle’s offense, when it was clicking, had little trouble moving the football. Defensively, though, the Bison struggled to keep the big play from happening in each game played.

“Defensively, I thought we’d be better at stopping the run than we were,” said Keith. “We’ve got a ways to go on defense. Offensively, we moved the ball pretty well. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times and that killed us.

“We can’t afford to have negative plays. Everything we do has got to be positive. We had too many negative plays with busted assignments and mental errors, and stuff like that we’ve got to get fixed. Luckily, we’ve got 10 more days to get ready for that.

“We’ll get the film out and we’ll watch it. We’ll get things corrected and we’ll go from there.”

The format for the benefit games had two teams on each end of the field playing one another with a 20-minute continuous clock, and all four teams took turns playing each other.

Carlisle played class 4A Dumas first, and the Bison started with the football at the 40-yard line. The Bison offense had positive runs on their first four plays of the drive, but the Bobcat defense got a strip on the fifth play to force a turnover.

A couple of holding penalties hurt Dumas’ opening offensive drive, but on second down, quarterback Ladarius Harris hit wideout Quen Baker on a skinny post up the middle that Baker took 37 yards for a touchdown. The extra point sailed through the uprights.

The Bison, though, responded with a five-play drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown run up the middle by running back Jacob Cagle, and fellow senior Clinton Hampton punched in the two-point try with 8:59 left in the opening scrimmage.

It didn’t take the Dumas offense long to respond. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Bobcat running back Lamar Hemphill broke for a 40-yard TD run for the final score of the scrimmage. Though it wasn’t kept on the board, Dumas finished the scrimmage with Carlisle on top 14-8.

The Bison took on Rison next, and the Wildcats were the only team to find the end zone in that scrimmage. The first score came on the very first drive. With 16:40 remaining, Rison’s running back broke for a 19-yard run to make it 6-0 Wildcats.

The two-point try was unsuccessful, but Rison scored again its next possession. On second and long, the Wildcats completed a 19-yard pass that resulted in another score, and although the second two-point try was also unsuccessful, Rison finished that exhibition ahead 12-0.

Carlisle started most if its second unit in the third scrimmage of the night, this one against class 4A Stuttgart, and it showed early. Carlisle’s first two offensive possessions ended with turnovers; both being fumbles.

Junior playmaker Malik Brasfield scored Stuttgart’s first two touchdowns on that many drives. The first score was a 4-yard scamper into the end zone, and the second was a 14-yarder on the sixth play of the drive.

Carlisle did get on the board on its final offensive series of the evening. Cagle got the call on the first two snaps of the series, and he took his third carry, which was the fourth play of the drive, 30 yards down the home sideline for a touchdown.

Hampton converted his second two-point run of the night to cut the Stuttgart lead to 12-8, but the Ricebirds scored again on the final offensive series to push the lead back to 10, winning it 18-8.

Cagle, the Bison feature back, finished the three scrimmages with a combined total of 11 carries for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Hampton had three carries for 23 yards, and Bison sophomore Devon Kendrick had 10 carries for 28 yards.