Friday, September 24, 2010

The Camden Game: The Final Chapter

The away stands at Chris Gilman Stadium.

And so the muddy dogfight that defined the first half continued well into the second.  Both squads violently sloshed against each other throughout the third quarter with nothing doing on either side.  BC, desperate to get on the board, finally started going to the air in the final quarter of play, and debuted a freshman receiver by the name of Kenny O'Neal.  I distinctly remember after Owens' first long completion to Kenny, which came about midway through the 4th, Reardon yelled out "Who the hell is this kid?  Is he Irish?"  A few plays later, Owens scampered into the endzone and the Cadets finally had their 6. 

But there was just one major problem:  kicker John Porzio had been thrown out of school earlier in the week for getting in a fight.  Sophomore Brandon Mell, grandson of the legendary Vic, was the backup and had never kicked in a varsity game.  Few were surprised when be missed the PAT, and most of us thought that was probably it at that point.  Here we were trailing 7-6 with 5 minutes left.  Camden would now find a way to come back and ram it down our throats.  Even if they didn't, they were still up, so we'd still lose.

Instead, the exact opposite happened.  After regaining possession,  Camden did pick up a first down or two, but then they collapsed.  It sure sounded like the fat lady when, with just 2 minutes left and BC having burned all its timeouts, Camden drove comfortably into Cadet territory.  But then a string of penalties against the Wildcats were called, stopping the clock and preventing an additional first down.  A Camden receiver also conveniently stepped out of bounds for no reason.     

BC then took possession with no more than a minute left at midfield.  Lamar hooked up with O'Neal again on a sideline route, and then went to Zeigler, who had already put up the most yards for the Cadets that night, to put BC in what only Brandon Mell and his mother thought was field goal range at that point, 38 yards away with 9 seconds left.

Another series of penalties then ensued.  The first against BC for delay of game, the second against Camden for being offsides.  By this point all of us are kneeling against the fence near the endzone with our eyes closed and heads down, rambling off as many Hail Mary's as possible, looking up every other second, vigilantly awaiting the final snap.

The ball was finally snapped, and the suspense ended right then and there because the millisecond after it left Brandon's foot, everyone on the away side of the stadium knew it was good.  The scene that erupted after it sailed through those uprights is seared into my memory.  The 9 of us leapt into the air, hugging each other and screaming the fight song at least 10 times in a row with the rest of the alumni.  I cried or at least came really close to it.  We then stormed field, taking full advantage of something they wouldn't let us do back home.  For a brief few minutes, it felt as if the atmosphere on the away stands of the Wildcat Den was more electric than Memorial Stadium could ever be.      

Mell was hauled off the field and is hailed as a hero to this day.  Ziegler and Owens will reminisce with you about the experience as often as possible.  And Kenny O'Neal is probably in jail somewhere.  But congratulations to the 9-2 2000 Benedictine Cadets, Region 3AAAAA Champs, and the last region opponent to topple the Camden Wildcats, 9-7, exactly 10 years ago this weekend.

3 comments:

Snuffy said...

Great memory!

After Lamar scored the TD, he threw the ball up in the air, prompting an unsportsmanlike conduct penaly, which pushed the PAT try back 15 yards.

If I remember it correctly, I think it was the QB that went out of bounds. It was 3rd and long. The QB dropped back and Cody Thomas broke through the line, with a clear shot at a sack. Cody hit the QB, who then spun. But Cody hung on for another second, slingshotting the QB toward the sideline and out of bounds.

Had Cody sacked the QB right there, the clock would have kept running and we probably would not have won the game.

Frank said...

Little tidbit for ya: on the touchdown, the play called was belly left. I was the right halfback. If you go back and watch the film, you'll notice Lamar stick it in my belly and then pull the ball and bootleg around the right. Meanwhile, I spun 180 degress and was looking at the ground for the ball as I thought we had fumbled through a bad transfer. Thank God he got in!

Will, you are correct in that Lamar chunked the ball 30 feet in the air and we had an unsportsmanlike penalty, which pushed the extra point try back 15 yards. I knew Mell missed it right when he kicked it but I also watched the ball sail wide of the uprights. On the winning field goal, I never even saw the ball go thru the uprights. I caught the snap and put it down and looked at Mell. As soon as he kicked it he threw his hands up in the air. I knew then it was good without looking.

You are also right it was the QB who spun out of bounds. Pretty sure we were out of timeouts at the point. the punter also shanked the punt which helped with field poisiton.

Patrick, love your articles, but you didn't show enough love to the D!!! Thomas, Bryan McBride, Steven Doan, Randy Gill, Roosevelt Pough, Matt Tuttle, Nardis Walker, Tommy Davis, Taylor Rock, John Wallden, Grover Collins, Chris Pamler. Those guys saved our ass that night are were undoubtedly the MVPs of the game.

I remember going nuts in the locker room after the game. Cody and Roosevelt were chanting "Salt n Peppa, Salt n Peppa!!!" What a crazy game!

Donnie said...

CTB, "Good memories".

Kenny O'Neal was cut recently by the New York Jets.