With just over two minutes remaining in the first half, it appeared that, at worst, Glynn Academy would go into the locker room trailing No. 9 Camden by just seven points.
Instead, the real worst-case scenario came to fruition, and a 21-point halftime deficit turned into a 51-17 Camden victory Friday at Glynn County Stadium.
The Terrors (2-3) took over from their own 20, down 17-10 with 2:19 to play in the second quarter following a Wildcat field goal. On the first play of the ensuing possession, Michael Holmes intercepted Glynn quarterback TJ Lewis, leading to Daryl Williams’s 15-yard touchdown run a play later.
After another quick three-and-out by the Terrors’ offense, the Wildcats drove 81 yards in under a minute to extend its advantage to 31-10 on quarterback Logan Watson’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Chamar Roberts as time expired.
Although the 14-point swing was a crucial factor in Camden’s win, head coach Bob Sphire felt the game-defining play occurred a few drives earlier.
The Wildcats (6-0) led 7-3, but after a touchdown on their opening drive, they’d gone three-and-out in their two previous possessions when the Terrors boomed a deep punt. It looked as if the ball may have touched the Camden returner before being recovered at the 1 yard-line by Glynn Academy, but the Wildcats ended up keeping possession.
Camden immediately picked up a first down on a run by Williams, but a few plays later it found itself facing third-and-9 from its own 15-yard line when Watson connected with Cole Jackson on a 21-yard strike for a first down. The Wildcats went on to complete the drive with a touchdown to go up 14-3, and they never looked back.
“Honestly, I think the most crucial play of the game was a third-down play on the 99-yard drive that Cole Jackson caught,” Sphire said. “I thought from that moment on, we were focused and dialed in. If he doesn’t make that play, I think it’s a much different game.
“We finished that 99-yard drive, and I think it was all on from there.”
A look at the final numbers in which the Wildcats out-gained the Terrors 516-300 and hung 51 points on the scoreboard belies what Sphire believes could have been a different game had his team not made the plays it needed, like Jackson’s catch, early on.
“I don’t have to a crystal ball, I can’t really predict it, but I know this, to win games like this, against a well-coached team at their place, you’ve got to make those kind of plays in those third downs, etc.,” Sphire said.
The debacle at the end of the first half looked to have taken its toll on a shell-shocked Glynn Academy coming out of the locker room. Lewis tossed another interception on the opening drive of the third quarter, and Camden scored three plays later on a touchdown pass from Watson to Caleb Keaton.
The Terrors matched the score a few seconds later when Nolan Grant raced 80 yards to the end zone of the first play of the ensuing possession to cut the deficit to 38-17 with 9:48 remaining in the third as Grant finished with 121 yards rushing.
Glynn forced just the third Camden punt of the contest on the next drive and took over on its 19-yard line with an opportunity to draw to within 14 points, but the drive ended when Lewis was sacked on fourth down at the Camden 43-yard line.
Four plays later, the Wildcats returned to the end zone to essentially put the game away at 44-17.
Camden got the ball back its 29-yard line a few minutes into the fourth quarter with a chance to see Watson break the program’s record for passing touchdowns, but Keaton wound up hitting paydirt on the ground, holding the senior signal caller to another share of the current mark with five touchdown passes on 19-of-28 attempts for 283 yards. He also had a 48-yard run to set up the late score in the first half.
“What a beautiful night,” Sphire said. “It was really as good of quarterback play tonight as I’ve had, and I’ve had some great quarterbacks.
“But that was a great display. He checked several of those plays at the line of scrimmage, got us in the right protections for the looks that we had, obviously got the right match-ups with the receivers on the DBs that we coached him up on all week. I thought that was a masterful job by him in this game.”
Roberts was the recipient of most of Watson’s throws, and he finished the game with six catches for 140 yards and three touchdowns. Williams added 125 yards of Camden’s 233 rushing yards.
For Glynn Academy, Friday was the third straight game in which the Terrors saw their defense ripped to shreds by an opposing offense. Over the past three contests, Glynn has allowed 121 points and 1,246 yards of total offense.
“You can’t stink on defense,” said Terrors head coach Rocky Hidalgo. “At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to. People have got to do their job.
“Offensively, we hung in there and fought. We’ve got to make some plays, but for us to come in here and just not get any stops because we just constantly screw things up… We went for it on fourth down the whole night and I told the kids I won’t punt again the rest of the season if we don’t start playing some defense around this place. I’ll just go for it and kick onside kicks. I’d rather get beat 70 to nothing then come out here and just have no chance to win a game because we’re not going to do the things we were coached to do on defense.”