All Kullen Carlock wanted was another chance. To atone for his team’s early season blowout loss to the Lebanon Yellowjackets. To show just how effective he could be when healthy.
Yeah, talk about a turnaround.
Carlock hauled in two touchdown passes and set up a momentum-turning scoring drive with a leaping catch on third-and-long, and the Camdenton Lakers also rode rusher Murphy Ward on Monday night to a 42-21 blowout of Lebanon in a Class 5 playoff game.
With it, Camdenton not only ended a five-game losing streak to their Highway 5 rivals but also bulldozed straight into a Saturday quarterfinal, set for 1:30 p.m. in Camdenton. The Lakers (8-3) will be matched opposite Parkway Central, a 29-6 winner against Holt.
“I was just looking forward to it. It’s the District (4) championship, and I’m just glad we won it,” said Carlock, whose broken right shoulder prevented him from playing the first four games, including a 46-21 loss to Camdenton in mid-September.
Motivated? “I wouldn’t say motivated,” Carlock said. “I was more focused and just ready to play.”
Overall, it was an impressive showing by the Lakers, whose offensive line flat dominated and whose defense neutralized electric running back Brock West.
Carlock and quarterback Cory Simpson connected on TD passes of 15 and 37 yards, and Ward basically hogged the ball on the ground with 30 carries that generated 166 yards, including touchdowns of 8, 8 and 16 yards.
The key play of the night? A 22-yard pass from Simpson to Carlock on a crossing pattern on third-and-18 from the Lakers’ own 44.
Lebanon had just scored on Aren Martin’s 68-yard TD reception — a bubble screen — to pull within 21-14 with 9:19 left. But Carlock’s catch re-directed the Lakers, who scored five plays later on Ward’s second 8-yard run.
“If we force them into a punt there, maybe the magic ‘mojo’ momentum can swing our way,” Lebanon coach Will Christian said. “In the first half, I thought we had opportunities to do that and we didn’t do it.”
Clearly, Carlock’s presence forces defenses to account for him out of the slot and, thus, allows the Lakers old-school rushing attack to plow the way.
“Definitely different,” Camdenton coach Jeff Shore said of his team from early season to now. “Carlock is a game-changer.”
West, who entered with 1,930 yards rushing, finished with 126 yards on 24 carries, including a 3-yard TD run in the second quarter. But he got only five touches through most of the fourth quarter, gaining only 21 yards, before piling up yardage well after the game was out of reach.
A goal-line stand early in the first quarter proved huge — Carlock, a safety, denied West of reaching a front corner of the end zone on one play — and the Lakers began asserting themselves. Camdenton converted a fumble into a long TD drive, finished by Carlock’s 15-yard reception.
“I thought Brock had a good ballgame,” Christian said. “I think more than anything else, we got ourselves in third-and-long situations with penalties early. And then we got in a situation (late) where he’s kind of taken out of the game.”