The opportunity was certainly there for Hillgrove, which only trailed 21-10 at halftime. The Wildcats fumbled the ball twice in the first half, but the Hawks couldn’t convert those turnovers into points.
Camden County, however, took advantage of Hillgrove’s second-half miscues which led to a big lead.
The Hawks’ defense forced the Wildcats (10-1) to punt on their initial second-half drive. Unfortunately for the visitors, Ryan Johnson recovered Troy Thompson’s fumble at the 29-yard line, which Camden County turned into a 17-yard touchdown run for Antonio Winbush.
The situation got worse for Hillgrove after Errol Breaux’s fumble on the ensuing kickoff return, which was recovered by Camden County’s Antwaun Lewis, resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run for Winbush and gave the Wildcats a 35-10 advantage with 3:24 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Camden County went on to score on its next two possessions, a 27-yard field goal from Hudson Jordan and a 10-yard run from Tyler Rauls to take a 45-10 lead with 8:52 remaining in the game.
Rauls’ touchdown capped a 38-0 scoring spurt for the Wildcats after they trailed 10-7 following Andrew Gaughn’s 39-yard field goal with 6:08 left in the second quarter.
“I think those two fumbles early in the second half set us back and took the wind out of our sails,” Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside said. “I thought our defense played well, especially in the first half and we were only down by 11 at halftime.
“The defense caused some turnovers and that gave us a chance, but we didn’t take advantage. I think it was a good effort by our team, but Camden got the momentum. I thought we competed, but we didn’t execute well in the second half.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Johnson punched in a 2-yard touchdown at the 10:19 mark of the second period. Hillgrove answered 10 seconds later behind Thompson’s 65-yard pass to Evan Engram which knotted the score at 7-all.
Gaughn’s field goal gave the Hawks their only lead of the contest, but it didn’t last long after J.J. Green, who rushed nine times for 88 yards, burst through the line of scrimmage for a 73-yard touchdown to ignite Camden County’s 38-0 scoring barrage.
Wimbush, who had 14 carries for 73 yards, scored the first of his three touchdowns off a 17-yard run with 48.9 seconds left in the first half.
Thompson, who was 13-for-33 for 219 and rushed five times for 18 yards, found Engram again for an 85-yard strike with 8:05 left in the contest to narrow the margin to 45-17.
Marcus Jordan’s 1-yard touchdown with 3:44 left on the clock proved to be the final score in the game.
Engram had four catches for 185 yards for Hillgrove, which had 17 total rushing yards compared to 393 for Camden County. The Hawks had 12 rushing yards in the first half compared to 192 for the Wildcats, but had better passing numbers – 122 to 90.
Wildcats’ quarterback and Georgia commitment Brice Ramsey was 8-for-16 for 109 yards and had three carries for 56 yards. Camden County had 19 first downs compared to six for Hillgrove.
“We were just overmatched, really,” Ironside said. “There’s a reason why they’re one of the best teams in the state. They’re good and they’re big and they play well.”