COLE CAMP — The outside running attack put Cole Camp up early and Fayette wasn’t able to make up the deficit in a 35-18 win for the Bluebirds on Saturday.
The trio of Brandon Thoennes, Austin Berendzen and Nik Clifton helped build a 27-0 lead in the first half.
“The line absolutely did fabulous,” Berendzen said. “They helped block everything.”
With Cole Camp already up 21-0 in the second quarter, the Bluebirds forced a punt and started a drive at their own 33 with 5:53 remaining in the first half.
Thoennes ran to the outside for 12 yards right off the bat and Kendrick Logan had a 20-yard catch and run two plays later to get Cole Camp 30 yards away from scoring.
A pass interference penalty set up Cole Camp at the 15 and Berendzen’s quarterback sneak later converted a fourth-and-1 into first and goal.
Berendzen found Logan open in the end zone two plays later for a three-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good, keeping the score 27-0 with 1:36 remaining in the first half.
It was Brady Smith’s lone missed extra point of the game as he made 3 of 4.
The rest of the game went kind of sloppy for the Bluebirds, only managing one more touchdown and getting called for numerous penalties.
After the second play of Fayette’s next drive, the head coach for each team had to run onto the field to stop an altercation in the middle of the field. Both teams were called for a personal foul.
“You’ve got to have your buddy’s back,” Berendzen said. “If my friend’s on the ground and he’s getting beat up I’m not just going to let him take it.”
Cole Camp coach Kevin Shearer said his team didn’t make the best judgment in that moment, but he understood why the situation started getting out of hand.
“You have to control your negative emotions,” he said. “It’s never OK to hurt your team with penalties or poor judgment, but you have to play this game with a little fight and a little spirit.”
Then the Falcons began to sling the ball down the field, completing a 24-yard pass on a third-and-16 and Ashton Boatman won a jump ball two plays later for 28 yards.
Kaden Hoover then found Chase Huthman for 15 yards to set up a first and goal.
A pass interference penalty on third down set the Falcons up two yards from the end zone and Tommy Phillips was wide open on the next play for a score as time expired, making it 27-6 at the break.
The penalty flags kept flying for both teams the rest of the game.
Cole Camp got a couple of seven-yard runs, an eight-yard run, a nine-yard run and a 21-yard gain from Thoennes on the first drive of the second half. Thoennes also had a 19-yard catch and run.
Clifton capped off the 14 play, 73 yard drive with a sneak up the middle for a yard to give Cole Camp a 35-6 lead with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter. Clifton completed a pass to Berendzen for the two points.
“I feel like our center Seth Pruitt kind of picked us up in the huddle,” Berendzen said. “He’s such a role model for us in there. He said we’ve got to go.”
Boatman returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards for a score to get the Falcon within 35-12.
Neither team scored again until Hoover completed a 37-yard touchdown pass to Phillips with 1:39 remaining in the game.
Cole Camp turned the ball over on downs twice and punted once after its scoring drive to start the half.
“We needed to get back to running the ball hard and physical and we’re not there yet,” Shearer said. “It was closer than where we’ve been.”
Fayette threw an interception to Berendzen and the Falcons punted once between the kickoff return score and the touchdown pass late in the game.
Thoennes injured his right ankle in the fourth quarter, so the Bluebirds (2-2) will hope to have him back in time for their week 5 game at Sherwood.
“Brandon is a hard runner and he had big carries, but Brandon’s also a tough kid,” Shearer said. “I would be really surprised if he isn’t 100 percent by next Friday. He may not get a full week of work, but I look for him to come back and be fine.”
Jason Strickland can be reached at 660-530-0147 or on Twitter @J_Strick_Sports.