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Grand re-opening

CHS defense turns back the clock by pitching a shutout over Knights at remodeled Zemp, 38-0

Posted: August 20, 2018 3:24 p.m.
Updated: August 21, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

NORTH CENTRAL TAILBACK Jamel Jones is picked off his feet by a tackle from Camden safety Jalyn Dubose (12) on this first half carry in action from Friday’s 38-0 CHS win at Zemp Stadium.

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All Tyronne Drakeford wanted was for North Central to still have a punchers’ chance in the latter stages of Friday’s season opener against in-county rival Camden.

Drakeford, the second-year Knights’ head coach, saw a golden scoring opportunity slip through his team’s hands when the Camden defense turned aside the visitors on a first and goal from the Bulldog two and then blocked a 25-yard field goal attempt to preserve a 10-0 lead late in the first half.

That was the story of the long evening as the CHS defense pitched a shutout in a 38-0 win over the 2A Knights in newly remodeled Zemp Stadium. The shutout was the first for the Bulldogs since a 14-0 victory over Lancaster --- 39 games ago --- in week five of the 2014 season.

With 10 seniors on defense, second-year Camden head coach Brian Rimpf said he was putting a lot on the collective shoulders of that unit. On Friday, in the start of a game delayed nearly an hour by lightning in the area, Camden’s defense shined in limiting NC to 98 yards on 42 offensive snaps.

“At halftime,” he said, “we talked about a tremendous effort by a few of our guys to keep that shutout. That was one of defensive goals; to create turnovers and get shutouts. That’s what we were able to do tonight.”

Sixty three of the Knights’ yards came on one play. With the hosts holding a tenuous 10-0 lead late in the first half, junior Austin Bowers, NC’s second quarterback of the night, gained control of a muffed snap and took off 63 yards in front of his own sidelines for a first and goal at the Bulldogs’ two. He was finally dragged down by CHS cornerback Jalen Johnson. The next two plays netted minus (-8) yards as the Knights faced a third and goal from the 10. A two-yard Bowers to Kalab Haven pass led to Hunter Haven’s 25-yard field goal try which was blocked by Darrion Allen with 61 seconds left in a first half which ended with the Dogs carrying a 10-0 lead into the locker room.

“Jalen Johnson made a tremendous play of hustling to prevent a long touchdown run,” Rimpf said. “They ended up not scoring because Darrion Allen gave tremendous effort on blocking the field goal attempt and then, James Dickerson gave great effort on making the tackle after they recovered the block field goal.”

The pivotal series was a blow to the Knights who, earlier in the first half, drove to the CHS 14 only to come away without points as Hunter Haven’s 32-yard field goal try was low. The guests then were also unable to cash in on Markell Portee’s interception and 28-yard return to the Bulldogs’ 45 before Camden’s goal line stand a little more than six minutes later.

Not being able to punch the ball in from two yards away, Drakeford said, was a killer to his team’s chances to pull off the upset of its AAA neighbor.

“We just missed too many opportunities, especially early in the game,” he said. “We were inside their 15 yard line three times in the first half and didn’t get any points. In the second half, we just didn’t come out ready to play. Against a really good team, it’s tough when you don’t take advantage of turnovers when you get them. And then, when you can’t score on offense, it’s going to make for a long night.”

The Bulldogs used their depth and stable of four running backs to take the pressure off their defense as three different backs scored on the ground while senior quarterback Bryce Jeffcoat hooked up with junior wide out Davea’ Cauthen with a pretty 13-yard fade pass, all in a 28-point second half.

After having survived the NC threat late in the second quarter, the Dogs went to work on offense in taking over following the second half kick at the Knights’ 49. An 18-yard Mikah Davis run opened the short, four-play drive which ended with a highlight reel 16-yard scoring run from sophomore Willis Lane who bounced off would-be tacklers, made a spin move at the seven to free himself before darting left for the score and the 17-0 lead with 10:35 to play in the third.

Following an NC three-and-out, CHS went back on the offensive in getting the ball at its own 19.Staying mainly on the ground and sending in fresh backs and spreading the wealth in the rushing attack, Jeffcoat showed off his legs by going to 10 yards on a carry to the 18. An NC penalty moved to ball to the 13 with Jeffcoat and Cauthen taking it from there on their 13-yard scoring hooking to the right pylon as the Camden lead grew to 24-0 with 4:58 showing on the third quarter clock.

“Our offensive coaches did a great job of adjusting at halftime,” Rimpf said of his team’s 28-point second half explosion. “After they discussed how they were lining up to us and the certain advantages we had on certain plays that they thought we could be successful at, they just ran those plays.”

The Knights re-inserted starter Avante’ Reynolds at quarterback after the CHS scoring pass and the senior ran from pressure and spotted Jamel Jones with a 23-yard pass for a first down  at the NC 44. The same senior duo teamed up for a gain of 24 yards on a third and five from their own 49 as the guests began to pick up steam on offense.

The drive fizzled with the Camden defense bowing up and stopping Bowers for a gain of a yard on fourth and 13 from the 30.

The Dogs’ offense went back to work and traveled 70 yards on eight plays in a drive which had Lane, who ran for 92 yards on eight carries, going on consecutive 18-yard runs to set up a first and goal from the 10. Davis did the honors a play later by going around left end and picking his way into the end zone at the 11:08 mark of the fourth quarter as the lead grew to 31-0.

The Knights dressed out 31 players for this week zero game which was played in humid conditions. The numbers game started catching up with NC in the second 24 minutes of the contest.

“That was a big factor,” said Drakeford who did not use the numbers game as an excuse. “(Camden) has an offensive teams and a defensive team whereas we had a lot of guys going both ways. With their size and speed, it wore us down.”

The Camden defense set up the game’s final score when safety Devin Engram picked off an NC pass at the Knights’ 25. Two snaps later, senior tailback Shymeik Corbett got into the scoring act as he broke through tackles near the line of scrimmage and sprinted into the end zone from 29 yards out. Senior kicker Bennett Caldwell then made good on his fifth PAT placement of the night to make it 38-0 with 8:57 to play in a game finished out by the backups.

“You always look like a better coach when your running backs break three or four tackles like Shymeik Corbett and Willis Lane did to get into the end zone,” Rimpf said. “Our guys put them in position to be there but it was tremendous effort by both Willis and Shymeik. They would not go down after the first hit and they both got faster as they broke away.”

The Knights were limited to 15 yards on 18 second half snaps. Reynolds was four of 10 passing for 57 yards while Bowers completed half of his eight passes for 23 yards while adding a team-best 56 yards rushing.

Drakeford said the decision to insert Bowers behind center was made to try to provide his team’s offense with a kick start.

“We just couldn’t get things going and then, Austin came in and made some plays for us and got us down there. We just have to find ways to get the ball in the end zone,” he said. “We’re going to go back and watch the film, see where we made mistakes and how we are going to correct some things and then, we’ll go from there.”

Camden was its own worst enemy in the first 30 minutes in which the Bulldogs were penalized eight times for 65 yards. NC’s first infraction, a pass interference call on a third and 19 play from its own 20, put CHS 10 yards closer and led to a 27-yard Caldwell field goal and a 3-0 lead with 7:53 showing on the first quarter clock.

A short, 11-yard, NC punt on the Knights’ second possession, set the Dogs up at their own 45. A 35-yard Jeffcoat to Corbett pass in the middle of the field put the ball at the 28. On third and 15 from the 23, the NC defense came at Jeffcoat on a well-designed tunnel screen to Corbett which went for 19 yards to the four. After a three-yard first down carry from Deldrik Jones, the 200-pound senior back bulled in from a yard out with the season’s first touchdown and a 10-0 Camden lead with 3:07 left in the first stanza.

Thanks to its defense, Camden was able to shrug off its drive-interrupting penalties and a turnover in the first half.

“We’ll see what those look like on film,” Rimpf said of the penalties. “They were probably from us being out of position or, a little lazy. We’ll get those corrected.

“Especially on offense, we can’t have those 10- and 15-yard penalties; those will stop a drive and we can’t have them.

“We’ll work on those things. We want to be disciplined. I don’t think we had half as many penalties in the second half as we did in the first so, that means we learned something which is what this is all about.”

Game Notes: Between the first and second quarters, Camden’s 2018 AAA state championship girls’ 4 x 400-meter relay team of Deniah Arthur, Staci Sumter, Carleigh Vaughn and Imani Wyatt, were presented with their state championship rings by coaches Angie Brennen and Emet Reyes … One thing which the weather delay did was to allow more people to get into Zemp Stadium without having to miss a play. Long lines of late-arriving fans stood outside the gates to the stadium at the scheduled 7:30 p.m. start … After a flurry of flags thrown its way in the first half, Camden was called for four second half infractions. For the game, CHS lost 105 yards on a dozen penalties while NC also had a dozen calls go against it for 77 yards … Obviously, the message sent by officials and coaches in the previous week’s Camden Shrine Club Jamboree was heeded by players on both sides as the game was not stopped nor was a player sent to the sidelines for a uniform violation … Camden accumulated 469 yards on 68 plays. The Dogs rushed for 330 yards and had another 139 in the air. On the ground, Lane went for 92 yards on eight carries while Corbett added another 77 on eight calls. Jones had 67 yards on the ground from 11 carries with Davis going for 53 on seven runs. Each of the four backs scored a touchdown … Jeffcoat was nine of 16 passing for 139 yards and a touchdown while running five times for 16 yards. ... Landon Goodwin had three catches for 67 yards. Corbett had three grabs for 51 while Cauthen had three for 21 including his 13-yard touchdown reception … NC had 98 yards from 42 plays with Bowers leading the rushing attack with 56 yards on eight carries. D’mitri Robinson was next with eight yards on two carries … Bowers completed half of his eight pass attempts for 23 yard while Reynolds was four-for-10 for 57 yards … Jamel Jones led all Knight receivers with 37 yards from two receptions. Tyler Faulkenberry had three catches for 21 yards while Kalab Haven had four grabs for 19 yards … In addition to his foot providing eight points for the winners, Caldwell had two punts average 27 yards while his kickoffs all went inside the 20 with one traveling into the end zone.


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