By Jeff Kessinger (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The seeds for Camdenton’s 50-42 win at Glendale Friday night weren’t planted in the turf at Lowe Stadium. No, those roots grew deep in a playground in Camdenton about nine years ago.
“Me and (Paxton DeLaurent) go way back, shoot, since third grade recess football. We have that connection going,” Lakers wide receiver Jase Nicklas said about his quarterback.
The duo probably can’t count the number of touchdowns they’ve connected on through the years, but the most recent one will be very memorable. Nicklas snuck behind the Glendale secondary and DeLaurent connected with his longtime friend for a game-winning 43-yard touchdown pass with 55 seconds to play.
The win keeps Camdenton — ranked No. 3 in Class 4 — unbeaten at 7-0.
“We had that open a few times tonight,” Nicklas said. “He knew the safety was going to come up on that curl route, because we hit that about a dozen times throughout the game. (The safety) did, so he just threw a dot and I got it.”
Nicklas was calm, cool and collected while describing the touchdown. That demeanor is everywhere on the Lakers’ roster.
“Our kids have an uncanny ability to hang in there,” Camdenton coach Jeff Shore said. “I think it’s our tradition. It’s part of wearing that purple helmet. They will always keep fighting, so we’re never out of anything. Even when we were down and it didn’t look good, I knew we’d still keep firing our shots. I feel fortunate to come out with a win tonight.”
Glendale, a resilient crew in its own right, was on the verge of putting the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter. The Falcons erased a 15-point deficit with and took a 42-35 lead with less than eight minutes to play on a 50-yard bomb from quarterback Gavin Watts to wideout Chris Floyd.
The Falcons (4-3) got an interception from senior linebacker Bryce Clark two plays later and were in business. They had a first down at their own 49 with 7:11 to play. But Camdenton’s defense kept firing its shots, too.
The Lakers sacked Watts on third down to force a punt. Jadin Faulconer scampered in from 10 yards out seven plays later to tie the game. Camdenton’s defense then forced a second straight 3-and-out to set up the winning score.
“I thought when we had the ball and the lead, that was a key drive. We didn’t get a chance to score and you have to attribute a lot of that to (Camdenton) and how well they played,” Glendale coach Mike Mauk said. ““I’m pleased with the attitude, effort and the desire of our guys to play and compete tonight. We just came up short. We needed to make another play and we weren’t able to do that.”
Watts finished his night throwing for 436 yards unofficially, on 45-for-71 passing. He had four touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Jack Clinkenbeard led the Falcons with 16 catches for 159 yards. Shoemaker hauled in nine passes for 95 yards and three scores.
DeLaurent was 27-for-37 passing, with three touchdowns and an INT. Cooper Ezard caught 11 of those passes for 129 yards. Nicklas added eight catches for 127 yards and a score. Faulconer rushed 15 times for 127 yards and three touchdowns.
The Ozark Conference rivals put on a show all night, with momentum ping-ponging back and forth. The Falcons took the opening kickoff and marched down the field for an 8-0 lead before Camdenton rallied in front 22-8 thanks to a pair of touchdowns 55 seconds apart.
DeLaurent connected with Collin Thomas for a 12-yard touchdown, then the Falcons failed to field the ensuing kickoff. That set up a 3-yard dash by Faulconer.
Back came the Falcons. Watts found Ben Shoemaker for a 23-yard score before Camdenton had its own kickoff catastrophe. Glendale recovered the ball at the Lakers’ 38, setting up another Watts-to-Shoemaker score. This one came from 15 yards out and slashed the deficit to 22-20 at the half.
That rally didn’t shock the Lakers, though. Camdenton rebuilt its lead to 35-20 in the third quarter before enduring one last Glendale comeback.
“With this group, we’re never out of it,” Nicklas said. “The thought is always, ‘What can we do now to win?’ This group of guys is something magical. Glendale is a good football team and they’ve got a great offense. They gave us a run for our money, but ultimately we came out on top.”
Camdenton returns home Oct. 18 for a showdown with Rolla. Glendale will defend its home turf against Waynesville next Friday night.
CHS 7 15 13 15 — 50
GHS 8 12 8 14 — 42
Glendale — Gavin Watts 10 run (Jack Clinkenbeard pass from Watts), 8-0 7:12
Camdenton — Jadin Faulconer 2 run (Luke Galbreath kick), 8-7, 5:24
Camdenton — Collin Thomas 12 pass from Paxton DeLaurent (Talon Randazzo pass from DeLaurent), 15-8, 9:46
Camdenton — Faulconer 3 run (Galbreath kick), 22-8, 8:51
Glendale — Ben Shoemaker 23 pass from Watts (pass failed), 22-14, 4:39
Glendale — Shoemaker 15 pass from Watts (pass failed), 22-20, 2:07
Camdenton — Cooper Ezard 7 pass from DeLaurent (Galbreath kick), 29-20, 8:02
Camdenton — DeLaurent 1 run (run failed), 35-20, 3:22
Glendale — Floyd 12 pass from Watts (Floyd pass from Watt) 35-28
Glendale — Shoemaker 12 pass from Watts (pass failed), 35-34, 8:16
Glendale — Floyd 50 pass from Watts (Derek Horton pass from Watts), 42-35, 7:53
Camdenton — Faulconer 10 run (Galbreath kick), 42-42, 4:03
Camdenton — Jase Niklas 43 pass from DeLaurent (DeLaurent run), 50-42, :55.9