By KEVIN WEAKS
Obion Central had an electrifying start and an impressive comeback.
In the end, though, Camden settled for getting even.
The Rebels overcame a two-touchdown deficit after scoring on the game’s second play to grab a lead, but Camden kicked the tying field goal as time expired for a 21-21 tie in their session of the Pepsi Mid-America Challenge jamboree Friday night at Paris.
Still plagued by injuries and illnesses that kept players out of the lineup for the second straight preseason outing, Central was shorthanded in some areas against a talented Lions’ team.
It did not show early as Ben Jones picked up a fumble and ran 32 yards for a touchdown on the game’s second play.
Caleb Walker then hit the first of three point-after kicks, an area of play that would eventually play a key role in the game’s outcome.
After that, though, Central’s offense stalled while Camden put up three straight touchdowns.
Tanner Hudson, who finished the workout completing 6-of-9 passes for 123 yards and added three rushing attempts for 54 yards, accounted for all three Camden scores.
He had TD passes of 22 and 34 yards and then added a two-yard run for an 18-7 lead with 36 seconds remaining in the first of the two 12-minute quarters.
Camden missed all three of its extra point kicks, including two that banged off the upright.
“We had to put young kids back there,” OC head coach Shawn Jackson said of his secondary.
“But, Ben Jones scooped and scored, so I’m proud of that. I’m proud of our effort.”
Camden then began substituting on offense, which resulted in two punts and a failed fourth down attempt.
Meanwhile, Central’s offense finally came to life midway through the second period.
After completing just 3-of-9 passes and getting sacked twice in OC’s first four offensive sets, quarterback Blake Berner directed a pair of scoring drives that put the Rebels ahead 21-18 with less than a minute to play.
“We got better,” Jackson said. “We were bad in protection. We had a couple of guys out, and it showed. We just have to do better in what we’re doing.”
Berner covered 31 yards on two completions to Blake Rudd, and Bryce Warner carried four times for 32 yards, including the final 14 with 4:19 to play to get the Rebs within 18-14.
Central then executed a solid two-minute drill, overcoming a sack on the first play to move 74 yards in eight plays to take the lead.
Berner hit on 5-of-7 passes, finishing with a 14-yard TD toss to Rudd with 41 seconds to play.
Hudson then led the starters back on the field for Camden and took off on a 40-yard scramble on the opening play of the drive.
He then threw two incompletions, but a 13-yard toss set up a 39-yard field goal as time ran out.
“We came back. We moved better and played faster than we have been,” Jackson said.
“We’re just not able to roll in everybody we want to right now. But, we played to win, and they played to tie.”
The regular season begins Friday night as Central makes the short drive to Union City.
Kickoff at War Memorial Stadium will be 7:30 p.m.
Published in The Messenger 8.13.12