Lakers win thriller against Jefferson City Jays to move on to district semifinals

Mitch Prentice
Laker teammates maul junior Landon Thomas after he hauls in the game-winning touchdown agains the Jays with just 0:14 left on the clock.

In what was surely one of the most exciting games of the Lakers' 2020 season, Camdenton came out on top in Jefferson City to move ahead to the district semifinals. Both teams had their share of brilliance and head-scratching moments throughout the contest, but Camdenton showed no quit through four quarters and came out on top in Jefferson City, 43-36.

The games opened with a bang as the Lakers would strip the ball from the Jays and recover the fumble on the second play of the opening drive. Though this would light a fire under Camsdenton, the offense wouldn’t be able to immediately utilize the field position and would go three and out. The defense would hold stiff, however, and force the Jays to go three and out on the following possession, getting the ball back into the hands of senior quarterback Jacob Wormsley.

The next drive for the Lakers would be successful and would end with the Lakers taking the opening score of the game on a pass to senior Cooper Ezard. The Jays would strike back quickly, however, as quarterback Kevon Pendelton would take it in for a touchdown after a quick drive in response.

The Lakers would find no success on their next drive and would be forced to punt. Sophomore Kam Durnin’s punt would be deflected off a Jays player, giving the team great field position as they worked to take the lead from the Lakers. The Lakers would catch a break, as the Jays’ next drive would end in a field goal that would be no good, keeping the score 7-7.

Heading into the second quarter, Camdenton would make steady progress down the field and score once more on a connection from Wormsley to Ezard. The Jays would be forced to punt once more on their next drive, giving the ball back to Camdenton for a chance to go up two scores before the half. And that’s exactly what happened, as the Jays gifted the Lakers a ton of yardage on three separate penalties in the drive, aiding the team to get into the endzone again on a rush by Wormsley.

Just when things started to look bright for Camdenton, a number of errors gave life back to the Jays before heading into the locker room. On their following drive, the Jays would find Devin White wide open midfield for a big gain that would setup Pendelton for a rushing touchdown. After getting the ball back, the Lakers would fumble on the opening play and give possession right back to Jefferson City. The Jays would only put up a field goal on the ensuing drive but were able to cut their deficit to 21-17 heading into halftime.

Opening the second half with the ball, it was clear that the Lakers needed to take advantage and score right away. The team would make quick work of their opening drive and Wormsley would find Durnin in the endzone, giving them a 28-17 lead.

The Jays came out of the locker room with equal focus and made a solid drive of their own into the red zone. Just as they were aiming for the endzone, Cale Bentley would intercept the Jays and save the Lakers from losing their lead. This relief was short-lived, however, as Wormsley would be intercepted as well on the opening play of the next offensive drive, giving the Jays the ball back in the red zone once more. Jefferson City wouldn’t waste this gift, as Pendelton found the endzone once more. The third quarter would end with the Lakers leading 28-23.

Coming out for the final quarter of the contest, more errors would plague the Lakers as Wormsley would be intercepted once more. The Jays used this opportunity to its full extent and scored with haste on a 77-yard pass to senior Jordan Bruner. This touchdown would give the Jays their only lead of the night, with a score of 29-28.

The Lakers didn’t waste time responding, however, as the team marched back down the field for another score on a rush by senior Jadin Faulconer. In what would become a back and forth game, Pendelton would find running room on the Jays’ next drive for a 33-yard score, knotting things up at 36-36.

With less than two minutes left in the game, the Lakers had the ball and were rushing to kill the clock and to hopefully give themselves positioning to kick a field goal to win. The team found themselves at the Jays’ 25 with 0:48 on the clock. Instead of moving a few yards closer to kick and run out the clock, Wormsley would find junior Landon Thomas on a route to the endzone for a touchdown, giving the Lakers a 43-36 lead. With just 0:14 left on the clock, the Jays were only able to get off one final play after the kickoff and the clock hit 0:00 with Camdenton as the victor.

Walking off the field, Thomas was elated by the opportunity to score the winning touchdown and said that it would certainly be one of the highlights of his entire high school career. He said the play was planned to go straight to him and when he saw the ball in the air coming to him, he knew they had just won the game.

Coach Jeff Shore was as excited as any player in the huddle following the game, stressing to the boys that this opportunity was earned and that they had as good a chance as anyone to win it all. Shore says he knows this year has been strange for so many teams facing COVID protocols and having to miss games, which makes it all the more special that the Lakers have been able to get in a full, healthy season and now they get to advance in the playoffs.

He says the team has been persistent all season and, even when they have occasionally “shot themselves in the foot” with mistakes, they have always battled back. Shore says he’s ready to embrace the underdog role the team has seen this year and is ready to fight alongside his team to face any challenger ahead.

“It’s time to regroup and get ready for Washington because we can win that game,” Shore said. “If we play well, we’re hard to beat. We have a shot to beat anyone.”

Wormsley ended the night with 34 completed passes on 46 attempts, totaling 398 yards, 4 touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 9 yards and a touchdown. Faulconer rushed for 40 yards on 6 attempts and scored a touchdown. Senior Eli Griffin brought in eight catches for 121 yards, though no scores. Ezard ended the night with 11 catches for 82 yards and the first two touchdowns for the Lakers. Durnin brought in two catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. (More state to come)

Camdenton will play Washinton next Friday in the district semifinals, hoping to advance and play well into November.