Cameron ends two-year playoff drought with 42-7 win over Pembroke Hill Friday

The Cameron Dragons will have another shot at taking down the vaunted Maryville Spoofhounds after routing the Pembroke Hills Red Raiders 42-7 last Friday.

Cameron picked up its first postseason win since 2020, and next turn their attention to Maryville, who shutout the Dragons 21-0 during their previous encounter in September. 

“They worked hard. They worked hard from the second the last season was done. We graduated some kids, and they’ve worked their tails off since last November. They’ve done everything that I’ve asked,” Cameron coach Wes Bell said. “There was a stretch there that was difficult, but they didn’t stray. They didn’t fray away from our process. They kept working. We’re playing some pretty decent football at the right time of the year. I couldn’t be prouder of our kids.” 

With more than 400 yards rushing, the Red Raiders struggled to find an answer for Cameron’s ground attack. Although CHS junior running back Hudson Lodder had a team-leading 90 yards rushing for two touchdowns, Cameron’s offensive success seemed a team effort with senior Kenton Gates (87), sophomore River Meadows (80) and senior quarterback Alec Leazenby (76) each making significant contributions. 

“We were just trying to stay alive, and keep it going. We knew they were going to be a tough team. We blew them out of the water,” said Lodder, who put Cameron on the scoreboard during their opening drive with a 2-yard burst into the end zone. “… We just have to be hot, and be perfect - absolutely perfect (against Maryville), I think we can pull through and get another win.”

The Raiders responded to Cameron’s lengthy opening drive with their own, but it was the only time the Pembroke Hill side of the scoreboard lit the rest of the evening as Cameron scored 35 unanswered points. Meadows opened up a 14-point second quarter after finding the corner, then taking the ball 22 yards to pay-dirt. Moments later, Leazenby capped off another lengthy Cameron drive with a burst from inches outside the goal line - giving Cameron a 22-7 lead heading into halftime. 

As Cameron’s offense methodically wore down Pembroke Hill, the defense quietly held the Raiders to just 170 yards of total offense. Junior linebacker Gage Jones had a team-leading 7.5 tackles, taking advantage of the pressure up the middle provided by junior defensive tackle Marcas Easton, who had 6 tackles on the night. Another contributor to Cameron’s defensive success was freshman safety Talan Eddins 5 tackles.

“We knew how much momentum they had coming in. I think they won three or four in a row,” Gates said. “It was a different Dragon team. Usually, we get off to a pretty rough start, but tonight we came out and we were prepared … It feels great, but hopefully it’s only the beginning.”

After the break, Lodder made it a three-score game after capping off another lengthy drive with another 3-yard burst, then early in the fourth quarter senior running back Peyton Garr put the game way after finding the corner on a pitch from 31 yards out. After an 8-yard TD connection from Leazenby to senior tight end Cayden Fletcher, all but sealing the victory, Coach Bell gave his starters the rest of the night off with Maryville awaiting Cameron in the district semifinals, after having a first-round bye privileged to the top seed and Midland Empire Conference champion Spoofhounds.

“We went up there and probably didn’t our cleanest game (in September). There were multiple things that game, but we had a chance to kind of charge them,” Bell said. “… They’ve had a week off, so they’re healing up. I don’t know how Coach Webb feels about it, but I like to keep rolling. A week off would stress me out. I’m excited to go up there. I want to see our kids get an opportunity to compete up there. That’s an unbelievable environment. That’s a big team. Since we’ve played them last, they beat the No. 1 in 4A Lutheran North. They beat [St. Pius X]. It’s not like they haven’t done a lot since we played them. They’ve kept rolling.” 

 

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