By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
CAMDENTON, Mo. —
Joplin senior linebacker Adam St. Peter, one of the last players to walk off the field at Bob Shore Stadium, may have summed up his team’s Friday night with one simple sentence.
“We started off slow,” he said, “and we finished even slower.”
Camdenton racked up 522 yards of offense — including five plays of at least 69 yards — and dismantled the Eagles 45-10 in an Ozark Conference matchup.
“They just out smash-mouthed us. They whipped us,” Joplin coach Chris Shields said. “They didn’t do anything fancy, just dives really. They got a hat on a hat and we didn’t tackle and got pushed around up front.”
Joplin (4-4, 4-4 Ozark) played without senior defensive end Jared Bader, the team’s second-leading tackler and leader in tackles-for-loss. Shields said Bader is out indefinitely with an eligibility issue.
But the way Camdenton (5-3, 5-3) was moving the ball, it may not have mattered who the Eagles had on the field. It was that kind of night for the Lakers, playing in front of a large senior-night crowd.
Murphy Ward, who became Camdenton’s all-time leading rusher a week ago, busted through the line on the Lakers’ first play of the night and rumpled 85 yards for a 7-0 lead.
After a Joplin punt, Camdenton made it 14-0 on perhaps the only touchdown of the night the Lakers had to work hard for.
Camdenton converted two fourth downs during a 19-play, 90-yard drive that took 10:25 off the clock and ended on Ward’s 1-yard plunge.
“They came ready to play and we didn’t,” Shields said. “And that starts with me. I have to get these guys ready to play.”
Joplin scored all 10 of its points in the final 3:23 of the second quarter — a 5-yard pass from Gabe Sachetta to Abe Hueller and a 42-yard field goal from Brock Renken as time expired in the half.
But in between, Camdenton went 69 yards in six plays, fueled by a 30-yard Ward run for its third touchdown of the half.
Pair that with the Lakers’ three-play touchdown drive — highlighted by Cory Simpson’s 72-yard pass to Ryan Elliot on the first play of the half — to begin the third quarter, and suddenly the Lakers had all of the momentum with a 28-10 lead.
“They get the ball with three-something left and go down and score in two minutes,” Shields said. “If we hold them there, it’s 14-10 at half and that’s a big difference. Big difference.
“And then they come out and run for 70 yards on the first play of the second half. That’s just not good.”
Camdenton added a 69-yard touchdown pass from Simpson to Kullen Carlock and a 30-yard Simpson run before Mason Bennett’s 32-yard field goal with 53 seconds left in the third quarter put the running clock into play.
The Lakers finished with 358 rushing yards on 39 carries, an average of 9.2 yards per run. Ward had 156 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries while Justin Bernabe had 147 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
Joplin, meanwhile, was held to 183 yards of offense, including a season-low 21 yards on nine carries from senior running back Chris Payton-Barba. Sachetta finished the night 10-for-18 for 96 yards.
“We didn’t have much going for us,” St. Peter said. “We needed a spark and we didn’t have it tonight.
“We have to use this as motivation. We have to let it burn, let it hurt. Remember this feeling and make sure it never happens again.”