Naples outlasts Bavarian foe for first victory
Naples' Cameron Copeland rushes in Saturday's game against Schweinfurt-Bamberg. Naples won 30-26 after shrugging off a slow start and finding traction in the second half.
Stars and Stripes
NAPLES, Italy — Naples recorded its first win of the season Saturday, surviving a slow first half to capitalize on mistakes and fatigue by a combined Schweinfurt-Bamberg team.
Down by six at halftime, the Wildcats relied on rushing and passing touchdowns by quarterback Aiden Miranda and a 62-yard sideline run by junior running back Cameron Copeland to top the Razorbacks 30-26.
Naples coach Steve W. Altstiel said the game was a step forward for a team that lost all but a handful of starters from last season.
“The fact that they didn’t fall apart when we came back in the second half shows that maturity,” he said.
The Schweinfurt-Bamberg team, which dubbed itself “Schweinberg” found immediate traction at the game's start, leaning on the rushing of senior Tracy Crockett and the scrambling runs of senior quarterback D.J. Bascombe.
The Razorbacks also found help in a jittery Naples team plagued early by bad snaps and fumbles, which cut several promising drives short.
Crockett found the end zone on the Razorbacks’ first drive of the game, followed by junior Jonathan Miller on the second. A two-point conversion put Schweinfurt-Bamberg up 14-0.
Naples entered the half with the momentum, however, after a deep pass by freshman quarterback Ty-Rick Riggins found senior Jayontray Grogan, setting up a Copeland rushing touchdown with 32 second left. A two-point conversion put the game at 14-8 going into the break.
Several Schweinfurt penalties proved helpful to the Wildcats’ comeback. A late hit by the Razorbacks’ Miller revived Naples’ fading drive in the late second half, and an unsportsmanlike conduct in the fourth put the Wildcats’ inside the 10, setting up Miranda’s rushing touchdown.
After Copeland's long touchdown run put Naples ahead in the third, the Razorbacks responded with a Bascombe keeper into the end zone. Yet with Crockett out in the second half due to injury, the team began to lag. Naples controlled the rest of the game, making a Razorbacks' touchdown in the final seconds all but moot.
“I think the heat got to us a little, got us a little tired,” Razorbacks coach Jesse Wood said after the game.
Wood’s team is in a unique situation, he said. Players from both schools aren’t always able to practice at the same time, making communication on the field difficult the rest of the week.
“When we call a play, some guys got it, and some guys got to figure out how to get it,” he said.
Naples faces Hohenfels at home next week, before hitting the road for its final three games. Schweinfurt-Bamberg is scheduled to visit Vicenza next week.