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BY CHRIS PATTON
Not long after practices started the players and coaches of the first year co-op between Cerro Gordo and Bement realized they had the chance for a special season.
After their loss Saturday, when fans lined the field to hug and shake hands with the players, it was evident how special the season was to the communities involved.
Camp Point Central defeated Cerro Gordo-Bement 33-13 on Saturday in Camp Point to advance to the quarterfinal round of the IHSA Class 2A playoffs. The Broncos dream season ended with a record of 10-1.
CG-B fell behind early after two turnovers, but fought back to be within a touchdown at halftime.
Camp Point controlled the ball in the second half and the Broncos were unable to complete their comeback attempt. The Broncos only had the ball for just over three minutes in the second half.
After the game, head coach Andy Kerley spoke to his team’s trouble in trying to play catch up.
“We’re not designed to spread it out and chuck it,” Kerley said. “We can’t get in a two touchdown hole and come back, but we almost did. The kids rose up to any challenge all year long, but we just put ourselves in too many bad situations. We turned the ball over too much and they didn’t.”
The Panthers controlled the line of scrimmage for much of the game, both on offense and defense. CG-B had trouble corralling Camp Point fullback Bobby Keltz, who ran for 157 yards on 30 carries and one touchdown.
Backfield mate Douglas Weese ran for 118 yards and three touchdowns.
The Broncos' troubles started on the opening kickoff. Ethan Morton picked up the squib kick and fumbled as he was trying to gain additional yardage.
The Panthers would start their first drive on the CG-B 40-yard line, and refused to kick towards Bronco returner Steve Isbell when they were forced to punt.
Three minutes after recovering the fumble, the Panthers capped off a seven-play scoring drive with a 4-yard touchdown run by Dalton Heubner. Seth Leezer’s extra point kick was good and Camp Point had an early 7-0 advantage.
On CG-B's first possession, Isbell was unable to gain much ground on first and second downs. On third down, quarterback Cole Blickensderfer dropped back to pass and was sacked. Panthers lineman Jacob Ellers stripped the ball from Blickensderfer and the home team once again started a drive with great field position.
Four plays later, Weese scored a touchdown from 5 yards out to put the Panthers up 13-0 with six minutes left in the first quarter.
The Broncos moved the ball deep into Panthers territory on their second drive as Isbell took a pitch to the right and ran 42 yards to the Camp Point 23-yard line. But, the drive ended when the Broncos could not convert on fourth and 5.
CG-B’s defense got their first stop of the game, forcing the Panthers to punt after two run plays that gained no yardage and an incomplete pass.
After a short punt, the CG-B offense took the field looking to close the gap.
The drive ended in four plays when Isbell ran 28 yards for the Broncos' first score of the game. Jensen Bailey missed the extra point and the Broncos trailed 13-6 with 1:22 left in the first quarter.
Isbell finished his eye-popping junior season with 15 carries for 167 yards and a touchdown.
“Steve had a big game and our offense moved the ball,” Kerley said. “We needed some stops, and our defense, which has been our strength all year long – we didn’t really play all that well on that side of the ball.
"Offensively, we turned it over, so you put those things together and we’re not going to win games.”
Once their defense appeared vulnerable, Camp Point's offense took the field hoping to build its lead back up. An extended drive led to the Panthers' third touchdown of the first half. On fourth and 5 from his won 25, Weese scored his second touchdown to give the host team a 19-6 lead. Bailey Runyen blocked the Panthers' extra point attempt.
Closing the gap
Rather than hang their heads, the Broncos went right back to work on offense. CG-B used runs by Isbell and Dee Woods to move down the field. Blickensderfer found Morton to pick up a first down inside the red zone.
On fourth and 6 from the 15, Blickensderfer rolled to his right and found C.J. Somers in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Somers did a nice job of controlling the ball and making sure his feet were in bounds. Bailey’s extra point was good and the Broncos cut the lead to six points at 19-13.
Neither team would score again before halftime. The Broncos stopped an ill-advised fake punt try and took over with a minute left and solid field position, but couldn’t get any closer than the 39-yard line.
The Panthers heaved a pass towards the end zone, but Jordan Crist snagged the ball out of the air and CG-B took back over in the shadow of their goal line. Isbell took the carry on the last play of the half and ran out near midfield, but was finally brought down by the Panthers defense.
The Broncos responded quite well to being behind early and fought back to be within six points at halftime.
Things were just not meant to be, however, because Camp Point kept the ball in a death grip during the third quarter.
Camp Point took the second half kickoff and methodically moved down the field. A nearly nine-minute drive ended when Weese scored his third touchdown, this time from 2 yards out. The Panthers attempted a deeper two-point conversion due to a penalty and failed. With 3:11 left in the third, CG-B trailed 25-13.
Needing to respond with a score, the Broncos turned the ball over yet again.
In Panthers' territory, Blickensderfer dropped back to pass and faced a strong rush up the middle. Blickensderfer’s pass was tipped by Drew Miller and intercepted by Jacob Waters. Waters, a junior defensive lineman, carried the ball back across the 50.
“That’s the bootleg pass we’ve run a million times and they knew it was coming,” Kerley said. “They got on Dee and took him away. Any time you’ve got a tipped ball, generally bad things happen.”
Two plays later, the third quarter ended with CG-B running only four offensive plays during the frame.
The fourth quarter wasn’t much better for the Broncos. The Panthers’ drive continued into the final quarter as Camp Point ran the ball effectively and chewed up much of the remaining time.
With 6:28 left in the game, Keltz scored from the 2-yard line. Weese converted the two-point conversion to expand the lead to 33-13.
Following a kickoff return by Woods that took the ball into Panther territory, the Broncos began a hurry-up offense hoping for a quick score. CG-B reached the 15-yard line, but Blickensderfer was sacked on three straight plays to end the Broncos' hopes of advancing to the next round of the playoffs.
Tyce Rittenhouse had 13 tackles (five solos and eight assists) for the Broncos. Jay Woods added two solos and 11 assists.
Camp Point moves on to face DuQuoin in the quarterfinals. DuQuoin defeated top-seeded Bismarck-Henning 7-6 on Saturday.
“I was very proud of the way our kids handled the game,” Kerley said. “It would have been real easy to fall apart, but they didn’t. I walk out of this game, as odd as it may sound, feeling a little bit better about ourselves just because we hung together and fought.”