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Providence Kernel, September 21, 2008
Steam Roller Meekly End Home Stand With 28-6 Loss to Balt.
Avoid Shutout on Holt’s 4th Quarter TD Catch
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New York Slimes, September 21, 2008
Empires Top Connecticut, 24-17, for 5th Win
Pennington Passes for 221 Yards & 2 TDs
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Charleston Daily Smell, September 21, 2008
Hershey Dumps Cannons, 33-14, Behind Boller, Gates, Jennings
Locals’ Secondary Ravaged for 352 Yards
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Albany Sliced Onion, September 21, 2008
Holmes Keys Racers in 20-13 Victory Over Philadelphia
Take Lead to Stay on Speedy WR’s 45-Yard TD Reception
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, September 21, 2008
It Figurs: Cherries Escape, 16-15, From Richmond
Gain Unlikely Win on Rookie’s 87-Yard Last Minute Punt Return
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Washington Postage Stamp, September 22, 2008
Capitols Rally, Outgun Syracuse in OT, 44-38
Peterson Bursts 49 Yards on Draw Play for Deciding Score
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, September 21, 2008

Rip Snorter

Cherries Hung Tougher Than Some Fans

You couldn’t really blame the not insignificant portion of the Delaware Stadium crowd for throwing in the towel with 1:22 left last night and Richmond holding a 15‑10 lead and the ball. Aaron Kampman of the Rebels had just trapped Philip Rivers into getting sacked by Allen Rossum on a 4th and 13 play at the Rebels 22. That ended a promising drive that had the crowd buzzing. It seemed a frustrating evening of mostly fruitless probing by the Cherries’ offense, already handicapped by injuries to two starting linemen in previous weeks and to LaDainian Tomlinson early in the second quarter, would end with the denial of their quest for a 6th straight win.

The Cherries themselves weren’t ready to give up, though.

Their first task was to get the ball back.

The Cherries had forced Richmond three-and-out, a fact acknowledged by crowd noise loud enough to cause more than a few of the early departing fans in sections of the parking lot visible from the press box to reverse course and head back toward the stadium gate.

Pity most of those fans didn’t reenter in time for the next play as it represented one of the most dramatic in-game reversals of fortune in Cherries history. Rebels punter Donnie Jones outkicked his coverage to make it possible. Yamon Figurs fielded Jones’ line drive punt at the Delaware 13. When he broke into the clear outside the 35, the many fans still present let loose with a throaty roar. The noise reached a crescendo when the rookie wearing number 16 arrived in the end zone and the scoreboard rang up point number 16, good for the one-point lead. The delirium in the stands extended well beyond that point.

Man, it was loud — that roar could probably be heard in Wilmington! Groups of fans in the parking lot could be seen sprinting back toward the stadium. Want to bet many will reconsider next time they think about leaving early to beat the traffic?

The fans thenceforth kept the decibel level up as they willed the Cherries to ice the win. Of course it wasn’t easy. The “prevent” defense flexed alarmingly, allowing the Rebels to move to within a McNabb completion of a potential game-winning field goal attempt by Matt Stover, who had scored all of Richmond’s points on five three-pointers without a miss.

Two big plays helped the Cherries keep from handing the lead back:

The Cherries’ 16‑15 win was fitting payback for last season when the teams met in Richmond and the game likewise turned on a big kick return — but in favor of the Rebels. Delaware had furiously rallied to erase a late 8-point Richmond lead with a safety and a touchdown to take a 32‑31 lead with 1:30 to go. They then allowed Antonio Cromartie to return the ensuing kickoff 91 yards to the Cherries 8, setting up Kevin Faulk to score what would be the winning touchdown in a 39‑32 Richmond win.

I asked Brams about having given the Rebels a taste of their own medicine. He laughed and said, “Well, that’s not what I was thinking while Yamon was heading for the end zone … and honestly the thought hadn’t occurred to me yet. But you’re right, there certainly is a tit-for-tat aspect there, and sooner or later it would have crossed my mind.

“The difference between that [2007] game and this one was the play of our defense. In that game, McNabb killed us [with 267 yards passing]. Tonight we gave up some yards [299 total], but we kept [the Rebels] out of our end zone. When you do that, you’re almost always going to get the “W,” and,” he winked, “you usually won’t need a big special teams play in the last minute.”

Last night was not business as usual — that’s for sure.

With the game entering the last minute the Cherries needed something. And Figurs’ return was it. For the season he has returned 5 punts and taken 2 of them all the way. Recall his 81-yard return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter in the Cherries’ 36-33 overtime win over the Lakers. Figurs’ punt return average is now a stratospheric 38 yards!

Will he keep that up? Not bloody likely! But Cherries fans will enjoy it while it lasts — especially those among them not inclined to leave the stadium before the outcome is truly decided.