Camden County Squashes Miami Central's National Title Hopes with Last-Second Field Goal
|Central QB Rakeem Cato watches the game slip away from him en route to a 45-42 loss.|
Whatever the name, the Miami Central Rockets were served a full plate on Friday night in a last-gasp, 45-42 loss to Georgia state champs Camden County. The Wildcats won on a 28-yard field goal as time expired to squash Central's hopes of a national championship -- , although the Rockets' state title aspirations are still very much alive after another potent display of offensive firepower.
In the end, however, Camden's ogre-like offensive line proved hungrier than a Brooklyn cop at a donut festival, swallowing Central's pursuit of perfection in a single bite.
But Camden County was ready for the Rockets, matching them point for point in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,000.
Both teams failed to find the end zone right away. With Central's star running back Devonta Freeman finding yards hard to come by, the Rockets turned to quarterback Rakeem Cato for a spark. Cato found Charles Gaines, Jr. with a short pass that the senior wide receiver turned into a 34-yard, high-stepping touchdown.
But Camden's J.J. Green instantly ran the ensuing kick-off back 90 yards to tie the game 7-7.
From there on out, the two teams traded points, with Camden scoring off of a blocked punt and an 80-yard run by halfback Kenny Hutchinson.
Controversy struck just before half-time, however, as the referees appeared to stiff Central out of at least a field goal. Cato had worked the Rockets down to the 13-yard line with 8.4 second left when the officials started the game clock before the snap. When Cato's pass was too long for wide receiver Damonte Davis, the referees failed to stop the clock, allowing the half to end instead of giving Central a chance to kick a field goal.
Head coach Telly Lockette was furious, screaming at the officials in vain before heading to the lockerroom to speak to his team, down 29-21.
The second half mirrored the first, with neither team playing much defense: the Rockets susceptible on the ground; Camden in the air. Yet Central gradually climbed its way back into the game after returning a fumble and a kickoff for touchdowns.
But the Rockets were hapless to prevent Camden from powering the ball back down the field with run after run right up the middle, setting up the winning kick with 2.6 second left.
After the game, Camden head coach Jeff Herron called the contest "by far the best played regular season game I've ever been involved in."
"We just happened to have the ball last," he said.
Central's next game is this Friday against Madison High School in DeSoto, Texas.