The Fighting Camels were leading 21-10 with just over 12:00 minutes left in the 4th quarter during their PFL opener on Saturday. That was before a dramatic closing frame ensued and Butler came back from behind for an improbable 25-24 victory.
By the numbers, Campbell (2-2, 0-1) gained five more yards on offense (376-371) than Butler (3-1, 1-0) while also winning the time of possession battle. But the Bulldogs converted twice on 4th down during their final drive, giving them the lead for good, despite the Fighting Camels best effort in the closing seconds.
Here are the highlights from a back-and-forth affair.
JONES SETS THE TABLE
Junior tailback De’Shawn Jones has been a workhorse for the Fighting Camels this season, and once the offensive line started pulling through the hole, Jones was nearly unstoppable.
He finished the game with 133 yards rushing on 17 carries including a 72-yard scamper in the first half, his third rush of 50 or more yards this season. In fact, the workhorse back has now carried the ball at least 15 times in every game, averaging over seven yards per carry.
SPECIAL TEAMS SAVIOR
Redshirt junior kicker/punter Jarrett Ozimek provided his team an added spark, this on an afternoon when the Fighting Camels scored on their first field goal attempt of the season. With his team leading by three points in a pressure-filled situation, Ozimek nailed a 40-yard FG giving Campbell a 24-18 lead with 2:29 to play.
Not only did the Greenville, N.C. native make his first FG, he also helped in the field positon battle by booting two punts from inside his own five-yard line, averaging over 40 yards per attempt including a strong 47-yard punt (net) in the second half.
BIG PLAY THREAT
What better way to alleviate an assignment-based defense than take a shot down field for success. The Fighting Camels had an effective deep-play threat in Andre Davis, who led all players with 98 yards receiving on five catches.
His biggest play stretched the field down the far sideline for a 49-yard strike from Kameron Bryant, who finished 15-24 with 1 TD and 2 INT. This season alone, the redshirt senior has averaged over 17 yards per reception working on the outside.
APPLYING THE PRESSURE
Facing a dual-threat option quarterback in Matt Shiltz, who leads the team in both passing and rushing, the Fighting Camels executed a solid game plan to keep him in the pocket. By the numbers, Campbell recorded four tackles for loss, forced a fumble (and recovered the rock), while breaking up a season-high seven passes.
Butler responded by allowing their best weapon to make plays on the run, including an elusive toss for a WR touchdown pass from Guy Dibalsamo with 5:34 left in the 4th quarter. Shiltz finished with over 300 yards on offense, but most of those chunk yardage plays came in the 4th quarter, just around the time Butler rallied for 15 late points and the win.
LATE GAME LEGACY
Despite all of that, the Fighting Camels had a chance to win, even down to the very last play. After surrendering the lead, 25-24, Campbell drove right down the field to within field goal range.
Unfortunately a late penalty pushed the Camels back towards midfield setting up a Hail Mary attempt on the final play. That resulted in Kameron Bryant’s second INT of the afternoon, another one coming earlier on a 4th-and-goal toss to the end zone in the third quarter, finishing his solid night on a somewhat sour note.
In the midst of that potential game-winning drive, however, redshirt senior Ben Bolling tied a Campbell career receiving yards record, needing just one more yard through the air for the all-time ranks.