CHERRY HILL – It proved to be a senior moment.
Tyree Rodgers threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another.
Jamal Parker stepped in and rushed for 82 yards and a score in the second half.
Anthony Richardson hauled in a handful of passes good enough to impress any college coach.
Jake Stillings had a fourth-quarter sack.
Scoring 30 unanswered points and turning up its defense in the second half, the Camden Catholic High School football team left Shamrock Field with a convincing 30-9 victory over rival Paul VI in a West Jersey Football League game on Thanksgiving Day.
“They have been through so much as a group – three head coaches, all the turmoil that has come across at different times – and they stuck it out,” second-year coach Nick Strom said of his 20 seniors. “I told them it was our destiny that we’d win this game. I didn’t know how, but it played out that way.
“All of those guys. I’m going to miss them.”
The Irish (9-1), No. 3 in the Courier-Post Mean 15, seized control late in the first half. Rodgers hit Richardson on a 32-yard TD strike with 2:15 left and added a 5-yard TD run with 43 seconds to play for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.
Richardson had seven catches for 161 yards.
“He’s great. I’ve played against him since the fifth grade,” Paul VI senior linebacker John Santini said of Rodgers.
Rodgers would complete 14-of-21 passes for 216 yards. The Old Dominion recruit connected with Nolan Gerold on a 13-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter for his second and final touchdown pass of his career.
“He’s developed so much as a quarterback,” Strom said. “It’s nice to see. I know he wants to play wide receiver and defensive back, but he’s still a quarterback to me.”
Rodgers said it simply came down to executing.
“In the second quarter, second half, we got it together,” he said. “Everyone did their assignments.
“I felt comfortable. All of the seniors wanted to go out with a bang.”
After losing junior running back Nazir Streater to injury, Parker led the ground attack in the second half. The senior rushed for 82 of his 89 yards after the break, scoring on a 4-yard run to cap Camden Catholic’s first series of the second half.
Parker carried the ball six times for 41 yards on the 15-play, 80-yard drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock.
“We came out sleepwalking and they punched us right in the mouth,” Parker said. “Our coach told us it was time to respond. We didn’t want to go out as losers. It became do–or-die.
“After halftime, we needed a big stop and then needed to score. After that, we knew it was going to be the ballgame.”
Matt Vitale, who connected with Stefone Moore-Green for the Eagles’ lone TD of the day, completed 10-of-18 passes for 153 yards. Chris Randle rushed for a game-high 105 yards on 21 carries, while Lonnie Moore had four catches for 107 yards.
Paul VI (6-4) lost three of its last four games.
“They took advantage of the opportunities,” Paul VI coach John Doherty said. “We just didn’t get it done.”
For Camden Catholic, its seniors leave with only fond memories. They went 17-3 the last two seasons.
“These four years were a long four years,” Parker said. “Freshman year we were on top and then sophomore year we hit rock bottom. Coach Strom came in and turned things around. We had the talent and just needed to put it in place.
“We just needed to finish out, finish strong.”
Kevin Minnick; (856) 486-2424; email@example.com
CAMDEN CATHOLIC 30
PAUL VI 9
Player of the game: Tyree Rodgers threw two TD passes and rushed for another.
Play of the game: Anthony Richardson’s 47-yard catch late in the first half kept a scoring drive alive.
Well said: “All of the seniors wanted to go out with a bang.” – Tyree Rodgers
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