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Defense takes a vacation as Flora upends Dogs, 84-51

Posted: September 29, 2012 1:27 p.m.
Updated: October 1, 2012 5:00 a.m.

All football games start with an official’s whistle. This one should have kicked off with the dropping of a green flag.
On a night in which defense was relegated to being an urban legend, Camden scored eight touchdowns, accumulated 668 yards in total offense and still lost by 33 points as eighth-ranked A.C. Flora came into Zemp Stadium and scored the most points ever hung on a Bulldog squad in an 84-51 win in the Region 4-AAA opener for both sides.
The loss snapped Camden’s modest two-game win streak. The game itself, which featured a combined 1,326 yards in offense --- not including return yardage --- was played in an untidy three hours and three minutes.
Prior to Friday, the most points a CHS team ever surrendered to an opponent was the 61 given up in the 2002 AAA state championship game loss to Union. The visiting Falcons did that two better going into the fourth quarter as they took a 63-39 advantage into the final stanza.
Camden head coach Jimmy Neal believed this could be a high-scoring game and that his offense would have to be clicking in order to stay with the once-beaten guests. Never in his wildest dreams, however, could he have imagined was this contest would turn into.
“The game has changed so much,” he said, “you’re seeing these kinds of scores all over. They just beat us, though. We couldn’t stop the run and we couldn’t stop their passing game.
“(High octane offenses) are the way things are now. There are a lot of good skill kids out there.”
Before some fans had settled into their seats on Friday, the guests had already put up 21 points, scoring three touchdowns before the game was five minutes old.
Flora struck quickly and decisively as Schroder Carlton picked up a bouncing opening kickoff at his own 11, took off to his left and then cut back and sprinted untouched up the middle for an 89-yard touchdown which was followed the first of a dozen successful PAT kicks from Jack Grady for a 7-0 lead.
The advantage grew to 14-0 when a CHS muff on the ensuing kickoff was recovered by the guests at the Bulldogs’ eight. On fourth and goal from the one, quarterback Jake Lewis went over for the score and with 9:57 showing on the first quarter clock, the Falcons were already on top, 14-0.
A three and out on Camden’s first series led to a punt and a four-play, 50-yard scoring march capped by a three-yard scoring run by fullback Keith Goss, extending the lead to 21-0 with 7:04 left in the opening stanza.
The three-touchdown deficit left the Bulldogs with no other choice than to try and turn this game into a race and hope they had enough fuel left in the tank at the end.
A turnover by each side led to Camden recovering a Flora fumble at the Falcons’ 16 with 5:07 to play in the first. On third and seven from the 13, quarterback Josh Council, who threw for what is believed to be a school-record 413 yards, found a double-teamed Cedric Cook, who went over the two defenders for a grab and a first down at the 13. On third and goal from the 11, Council rolled left and spotted an open Alexx Cooke with the first of Council’s seven touchdown passes on the night to make it 21-7 with 3:04 showing on the first quarter clock.
Unfazed, the Falcons came back on the next series with Goss going through the heart of the defense for a 65-yard scoring jaunt and a 28-7 lead. Flora would score with 7:19 left in the half when Lewis lobbed a 31-yard scoring pass to a wide-open Shelton Whitaker, who took advantage of a blown assignment in the secondary, to make it 35-7.
Camden responded with a six-play, 81-yard scoring march with Council finding sophomore tight end Chase Truesdale with consecutive passes of 37 and four yards. On first and goal from the nine, Council hit Dontrell Miller with a scoring pass at the 5:19 marker to make it a 35-13 game.
There was still more to come before the break.
Using a 31-yard Carlton punt return to midfield, Flora needed three plays to find the end zone, this time it was JuWan Simon going in from three yards out for a 42-13 lead with 102 ticks left before intermission.
Camden needed all but three of those seconds to travel 80 yards as Council hit Alexx Cooke for 23 yards on a third and four from the CHS 26. An 11-yard catch by tailback Brandon Hampton, a 13-yard run by Council --- with five yards tacked onto it by a personal foul call --- gave CHS a first and goal at the five with six seconds left in the half. Council then zipped a strike to Cedric Cook on a slant pattern for the touchdown, the first of his four on the evening, as the hosts trailed, 42-19 at halftime.
With his team having built up a bit of momentum and on the receiving end of the second half kick, Neal thought this game was hardly out of reach.
“We thought, ‘OK, here we go.’ We thought we had a chance there,” Neal said. “I thought we had a chance to come back in the second half, but we never could stop them. They started scoring and there wasn’t much that we could do.”
Camden broke quickly from the gate in the second half, marching 77 yards on six plays, the second of which saw Council find Jerel Holloman with a short pass which the senior wide out turned into a 66-yard gain to the ACF 11. On fourth and three from the four, Council hit Cedric Cook with a laser at the left pylon to trim the deficit into a now-manageable 42-25 game with 10:23 left in the third.
But Flora, which punted one time to Camden’s four, responded with Simon going 47 yards for the touchdown on a sweep over left tackle to up the ante to 49-25 less than two minutes later.
Led by Simon’s 183 yards on 10 carries, the Falcons rushed for 473 yards on 43 carries while Lewis threw for another 185 on a seven-for-nine night as the guests piled up 658 yards in offense.
“When you play so many young guys, that’s what happens,” Neal said of his team’s defense. “Those guys are very hesitant and don’t fly in there and don’t attack; they’re sitting back there waiting. That’s where we are.
“We’re not confident as a defensive group. We’re waiting for those guys to come to us and that’s the worst thing you can do. We practice and practice and practice that. We just have to get them confident in their ability to tackle.”
It took the Dogs one play to get this one get back to a three-touchdown game as on the first play from scrimmage, Council found Cedric Cook along the Flora sidelines and the senior wide out outran the Falcon defenders home for an 83-yard touchdown reception, making it 49-31.
Camden could not stop the guests, who cashed in on their next two possessions with R.J. Joyner scoring on a nine-yard run before Whitaker made an end-of-the-fingertip catch on a 53-yard Lewis strike to hike the lead to 63-31 with 3:54 left in the third quarter.
The Dogs would score on another Council-to-Cedric Cook strike, this a 26-yard connection over the middle on fourth and three with 66 seconds left in a third quarter which closed with the Falcons holding a 63-39 advantage.
It would not stay that way for long as Flora went 64 yards for a touchdown with Lewis doing the honors from a yard out. It took Camden one snap to close the gap to 70-45 as Council found Holloman on his right and Holloman broke a pair of tackles and went home for the 76-yard touchdown. It was Holloman’s third catch on a night in which he had a career-best 168 receiving yards.
Later, Neal said that if there was a bright spot in this game for the Dogs, it was the big-strike capability of the passing game, which was aided by some problems in the Flora secondary.
 “I don’t know if that was our execution or their inability to cover. I’m happy for our guys, though,” he said of the air attack. “We thought we could throw the ball on them. I thought our coaches made some good adjustments at halftime with some stuff that we had to score more points.
“We thought we could do a couple other things to them, too,” Neal added. “They have a couple of really good defensive linemen who gave us some problems. With the way they play their defense, we thought we could do some good things. We didn’t do as good of a job of running the ball as we had hoped. We were able to throw the ball on them, though.
“We’re playing pretty well on offense on some things and doing some stuff well. We just have to find a way to be better.”
Flora would sandwich a three-yard Kendrice Slater touchdown --- ending a 13-play Bulldog scoring drive with 2:11 left --- with a four-yard Goss run and a 58-yard burst by James Croffie, the latter of which came with 10 ticks left in the game clock.
Croffie’s final carry gave the guests five rushers who went for 55 yards or better on the night for a team which did not have its leading ground gainer, Aven Pollard, in the lineup on Friday.
With having last year’s AAA Lower State finalists and Region 4-AAA pre-season favorites out of the way, Camden can now concentrate on its final four games of region play, which will determine whether the Dogs make a return to the state playoffs after missing the post-season a year ago.
Neal said despite the way things ended on Friday, it will be business as usual when the team reconvenes for practice today in preparation for Friday’s game at Lower Richland.
“We never change. We don’t threaten them or any of that kind of stuff,” he said of the week ahead. “We show up and try to get our guys better and hope they improve. That’s what we do.
“We’ll watch the film and critique it, coach them, correct them, do the best that we can and then, go out to practice and, hopefully, get them better. We do what we do. We’re not going to treat them like dogs or anything like that. We’re going to do the best we can and hang in there and, hopefully, it will get better.”

Bulldog Bites: Thanks in large part to Carlton’s game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown, the Falcons had 149 yards in returns … In addition to throwing for 413 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns, Council ran for another 72 giving him 485 yards in offense for the night … Six different Bulldogs were on the receiving end of passes from Council led by Cedric Cook, who took in five aerials for 126 yards and four touchdowns. Miller also had five grabs for 41 yards and a score while also hauling in a two-point conversion pass … All three of Holloman’s catches, for 168 yards and a touchdown, came in the second half … Slater, a sophomore, led all Bulldogs on the ground as he went for 105 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries … Fellow sophomore Ross Hough came in for Council in the middle of Camden’s final scoring drive and picked up 14 yards on two carries … The 51 points were the most scored by a Bulldog team in a loss … While several Camden players were nicked up on Friday, the injury bug spread to former Camden Middle School assistant principal, Jody Moots, who was one of the officials on Friday. In the second half, Moots was noticeably hobbling with what appeared to have been a hamstring injury suffered during the game.

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