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Edwards, Captains eager to get back to work for 2012

When a quarterback feels like he's starring in a movie, odds are, something good is happening.

But Aaron Edwards wasn't part of a feel-good film this past Saturday.

Edwards, who'd thrown for 537 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception in two games as Christopher Newport's starter, threw five picks in the Captains' 34-10 loss at Kean (N.J.) in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. Four led to touchdowns, including three in a disastrous final 1:28 of the second quarter that left CNU, within 14-7 with 9:36 left in the first half, down 34-7 at halftime.

"It was kind of like 'The Replacements' — the quicksand," Edwards said.

In the scene from the 2000 movie about substitute players who fill in during a pro football strike, coach Jimmy McGinty, played by Gene Hackman, is trying to get his team to open up about their fears on the field.

After some not-quite-what-the-coach-meant talk about spiders and bees, quarterback Shane Falco, played by Keanu Reeves, says he's afraid of quicksand: "You're playing and you think everything is going fine, but then one thing goes wrong, and then another, and another," Reeves says. "And you try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink, until you can't move. You can't breathe, because you're in over your head. Like quicksand."

After Saturday, Edwards can relate.

"It wasn't fun," said Edwards, a junior out of York High. "They were bringing a lot of edge pressure and stunts up the middle. I was trying to get it out early, and stuff that I thought was going to be there, they jumped. (There were) a lot of balls that I shouldn't have thrown."

The Captains, who ended their season at 8-3, held the Cougars scoreless and without a first down in the second half, but it was too late.

"Any loss hurts, but at the same time, I think that even if I cut those interceptions in half, we'd still have a great chance of winning that game," Edwards said.

Edwards clearly wasn't in the mood to do it, but his stellar play before Saturday should be noted. After backup QB Lyndon Garner, called upon when original starter Christian Woelfel-Monsivais tore his ACL, broke his leg early in the second half at Greensboro on Oct. 29, Edwards finished off that win, then led the Captains to a win at Ferrum on Nov. 5. That clinched a share of the USA South title, and the next week's victory against Maryville gave CNU just its second outright conference crown.

"We were in crunch time, the final three games of the season, and he helped bail us out," Captains coach Matt Kelchner said. "He really stepped up. He played very good football. And there were times Saturday he played very well. … He did a very commendable job. You can't knock his performance in any way."

Edwards' efforts put him squarely in the middle of a QB competition for 2012 that will include both Woelfel-Monsivais and Garner, along with a pair of promising young guns in Taylor Byrd and Gary Pisall.

CNU also returns its entire backfield, including Markeese Stovall, who had a team-best 970 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore before breaking his ankle at Ferrum, and second-leading rusher Marcus Morrast, who gained 556 yards as a freshman before a helmet to the stomach sidelined him against Kean. Sophomore Evan Moog, a Jamestown product who had 519 rushing yards and eight TDs but missed the second half this past Saturday with a shoulder injury, also will return.

Senior linebacker Mike King, bothered for a chunk of the season by an ankle injury, still made a team-high 73 tackles, and is one of several seniors — including linemen Malcolm Jones and Paul Bresnan — who graduate. CNU returns its three leading tacklers after King, led by linebackers Daniel Lewis and Tyler Portell, who combined for 106 tackles.

"One thing about (the injuries), a lot of guys got a lot of reps this year," Kelchner said. "I counted today — we had 43 players who are returning get significant playing time this year, either offense, defense or special teams. There's a lot of guys returning who had played good, quality football."

That includes Edwards, whose final outing both colored his view of his accomplishments and served as motivation to achieve more.

"The only thing that I can really appreciate is that this will make me work harder during the offseason," Edwards said. "You're only as good as your last game, so during the offseason, I'm just going to work as hard as I possibly can in order to win that spot next year, and for us to have an even better season."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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