Cameron unreeled 27 straight points to ring up a 51-33 victory over Rockdale in front of the requisite standing-room-only crowd at Tigerland Field.
In winning their 18th straight game and improving to 3-0 on the season, the defending state champions broke serve in possession of the coveted Bell, which had gone to the home team the past seven years.
Cameron last retained possession of the Bell in 2005- 2006. Rockdale (1-2) has not kept the Bell since 1976-1977.
The Yoemen, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, lead the series 41-18.
If it was non-stop, backand forth action you were looking for, Tigerland Field was the place to be Friday night as the rivals combined for the largest scoring game in the overall series that began in 1911.
Both head coaches were overwhelmed.
“That’s one of the stranger games I’ve been a part of,” said Rockdale coach Jeff Miller, 3-5 against Cameron. “The momentum swings shifted back and forth before it even settled in.
“It was a great atmosphere and fun to be a part of.”
“ That’s one of the craziest games I’ve been a part of,” said Cameron Coach Rick Rhoades, who is now 3-2 in the Battle of the Bell. “No one has run an offensive play and both teams have scored? That’s crazy. I think at one point, we had both scored the same amount of touchdowns and we are up by six.”
Big Blue’s Ladontice Coates got the fireworks underway right away, electrifying the home crowd by returning the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown after busting up the middle and then scooting down the near sideline.
However, the excitement was short lived as the Tigers mishandled the extra point snap and while holder Dylan McCartney attempted to throw the ball into the end zone, Cameron’s Adam Charanza stepped in front of the pass and returned it 95 yards for two points to make it 6-2 with just 13 seconds ticked off the clock and nary an offensive snap.
Undaunted, the Tigers regained the momentum when Austin Caffey picked off a Jason Kopriva pass at the 46-yard line and four plays later, Elijah Brooks slammed up the middle and broke into the open for a 44-yard touchdown on his first carry of the evening for a 12-2 lead with 7 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first quarter.
After both teams punted, Cameron scored its first touchdown when Kopriva found Somari Wright in the corner of the end zone for a 9-yard toss and after a pass from Kopriva to Colton Labay for the conversion that closed the gap to 13-10.
The Yoemen secured a brief lead when Kopriva found Colton Shuf f ield behind the Tiger defense af ter a fake double reverse at the 42-yard line and he raced untouched to complete the 70-yard connection for a 17-13 lead with 1:25 left in the first quarter.
The two teams exchanged touchdown passes—for Rockdale a 22-yard slant to Pearce Loth and for Cameron a 16 yarder to Aaron Sims to provide Cameron with 24-20 halftime lead.
Big Blue emerged from intermission on a mission, scoring twice on their first two possessions.
After forcing the Yoe to punt, the Tigers drove 73 yards on nine plays with Dailynn Ramey cutting through middle and then shifting right for a 13-yard score to regain the lead 27-24.
The Tigers created their next scoring opportunity when Pudgy Burgess intercepted a ball at the 35-yard line and it took just one play for Brooks to spread out in the open again and cover the distance for a 33-24 lead with 5:45 left in the third quarter.
However, the Tigers allowed Cameron 27 unanswered points, including another extra point mishap after Brooks’ score in which Wright picked up the blocked extra point and returned it 76 yards for another two points that began the onslaught.
Cameron scored on its next three possessions, twice burning the Tigers on the same play action passes where Kopriva found a wide-open Colton Shuffield on identical 67-yard and 35-yard scoring strikes to make it 44-33.
Justin Pratt closed out the scoring after stepping in front of a Clayton Gibbs sideline pass and returning it 37 yards for a touchdown to make it 51-33 with 3:01 remaining to be played.
Kopriva riddled Rockdale for 261 yards and five touchdowns on 14-of-20 accuracy. The Tigers picked him off twice, but three of his completions to a wide-open Shuffield accounted for 172 yards of his total.
Shuffield gathered in four passes for 177 yards and the three scores.
“I’m proud of our kids, our coaches,” Rhoades said. “I am just proud of the way we hung in there after being down two scores. This game will make us a better football team.”
“We made a ton of great plays,” Miller said. “I thought we executed plays most of the night and kind of did what we wanted to do. We played well enough to win.”
17 First downs 21
31-152 Rushes-yards 31-216
14-20-2 Passes 14-37-2
103 Passing yards 145
413 Total offense 361
4-38 Punts 5-21
1-0 Fumbles-lost 2-0
3-30 Penalties-yards 3-20
Score by quarters
Rockdale 13 7 13 0—33
ROCKDALE— Ladontice Coates 89 KO
return (pass faileed) 11:47
CAMERON—Adam Charanza 95 extra point
INT return 11:47
ROCKDALE—Elijah Brooks 44 run (Adolfo
Chavira kick) 7:31
CAMERON—Somari Wright 9 pass from
Jason Kopriva (Colton Labay pass from
CAMERON—Colton Shuffield 70 pass from
Kopriva (Michael Evan kick) 1:25
ROCKDALE— Pearce Loth 22 pass from
Clayton Gibbs (Chavira kick) 9:41
CAMERON— Aaron Sims 16 pass from
Kopriva (Evan kick) 5:30
ROCKDALE—Dailynn Ramey 13 run (Chavira kick) 6:41
ROCKDALE– Brooks 35 run (kick block)
CAMERON—Wright 76 blocked extra point
CAMERON—Smith 3 run (kick failed) :10
CAMERON—Shuffield 67 pass from Kopriva (kick failed) 10:24
CAMERON—Shuffield 35 pass from Kopriva (kick failed) 7:56
CAMERON–Justin Pratt 37 INT return (Evan
RUSHING—ROCKDALE: Brooks 14-103 2
TD, Gibbs 12-71, Ramey 5-42 TD. CAMERON: Smith 20-97 TD, Sims 4-62.
PASSING— ROCKDALE: Gibbs 14-37-2,
145 yards TD. CAMERON—Kopriva 14-20-
2, 261 yards , 5 TDs.
RECEIVING—ROCKDALE: Burgess 5-59,
Loth 4-49, Caffey 3-24, Drummond 1-7,
Ford 1-6. CAMERON: Shuffield 4-177 3
TD, Sims 3-17 TD.
TACKLES—ROCKDALE: Ehler 12, Prazak
8, Caffey 8, David 6, Moreland 6. CAMERON: Wright 12, Labay 8, Hanel 8.
TIGER SEASON LEADERS
Rushing— Brooks 44-227 3 TD,
Ramey 17-140 3 TD, Gibbs 29-137 2
TD, Hernandez 3-19, McCartney 1- 2.
Passing— Gibbs 57-105-3, 709
yards, 3 TD, McCartney 1-1-0 3 yards.
Receiving— Burgess 21-245 TD,
Loth 20-288 TD, Caffey 11-122 TD,
Brooks 1-26, Heintze 1-11, Ford 2-10,
Drummond 1-7, Harris 1-3.
Tackles— Ehler 24, Prazak 22,
David 19, Coates 19, Caffey 18,