The Hamburg Lions lost their first road game to Camden Fairview.
The Cardinals beat the Lions 51-30 on Friday night, but the Lions fought hard throughout the entire game.
Coach Cecil Ray Cossey said this year’s Cardinals are vastly improved and are playing with the best offense they’ve had during Cossey’s time at Hamburg.
“I want to tip my hat to Coach Monden and the Camden Fairview Cardinals,” Coach Cossey said after Friday’s game. “They have more team size and speed than I’ve seen since my first year here (at Hamburg), so we lost to a pretty dang good football team.”
It only took the Cardinals four plays in their opening drive to get one in the endzone. The extra point kick failed, but Camden was up 6-0 with just a little more than a minute gone from the clock.
The Lions couldn’t move the ball and punted right back to the Cardinals, but Jamal Brewer grabbed an interception for the Lions getting them the ball back on their own 43 yard line.
DJ Johnson attempted to run it twice before quarterback Brett Rice finally was able to get a pass off to him that he carried 53 yards into the endzone for the Lion score. The extra point kick was good and the Lions were up 7-6 over Camden.
Camden answered with a touchodown, but not without a fight from the Lion defense.
The Cardinals returned the kick off 53 yards to mid field but a penalty pushed them back to their own 17. It took them 11 plays to get the ball in the endzone as defenders Chris Loyd and Armod Taylor shut down the first few runs. Another Cardinal broke away for a 53 yard run before he was stopped by Lion Nick McNeil. Gavin Harrod and Bridges stopped the next run on the Lion 9 and Dylan Morgan tackled for a loss moving them back to the Lion 13. Another run and an offsides penalty brought them to the Lion 3 yard line setting them up to run it in for six on the next play. The extra point kick was no good, but Camden was still up 12-7 with a little more than two minutes on the clock in the first quarter.
The Cardinals stopped the Lions on their next drive, but not without the Lions making it to the Cardinal 28 yard line. The Lions fought hard and it took Camden 15 plays, but they made it back into the endzone. The extra point kick was good giving them a 19-7 lead over the Lions.
The Lions started their next drive on their own 35 yard line, but on the first play DJ Johnson ran the ball 65 yards in the endzone for a Hamburg touchdown. Jesus Aguilar kicked in the extra point and the Lions were only down by five at 19-14.
The Lions kicked off to the Cardinals and held them to a punt. The Lions started a new drive with about five minutes left to play in the first half, but were forced to punt midfield.
The Lions fought the Cardinals off again and forced them to turn the ball over on downs on the Lion 20 yard line giving Hamburg back the ball with just a few seconds on the clock.
They only got to run one play before hitting the locker rooms for the break with a half time score of 19-14.
After the break, the Lions received the ball, but turned it over on downs. They fought off the Cardinals for 11 plays before they were back in the endzone. The Camden kicker got it through the goal post and the score was 26-14 with 7:46 to play in the third quarter.
On the next Lion drive Hamburg fumbled in their own territory setting up the Cardinals to score. They fought them off for seven plays, but the Cardinals still made it back in the endzone. The kick failed making the score 32-14.
The Lions fumbled again and the Cardinals put another touchdown and PAT on the board making the score 39-14.
The Lions still didn’t give up and Bridges took matters into his own hands by returning the kick off 85 yards for a Lion touchdown. Aguilar’s kick was good and the score was 39-21 with a little over three minutes to go in the third quarter.
Cossey said the Lions fought a hard fight, but the Cardinals were able to score two more touchdowns giving them a final of 51. Even when they were down 51-21, the Hamburg team never gave up. The Lions managed to get two more into the endzone before the end of the game making the final score 51-35.
Cossey said the game was a back and forth for the first half, but two fumbles in a row really hurt them forcing their defense to play three consecutive drives without a break at all.
“When you have players playing both ways, that’s a really bad break,” Cossey said.
Cossey said he was proud of the hard work the offense put in. Johnson still managed to add 150 yards to his stats and two touchdowns, both of which were more than 50 yards. Bridges scored on special teams for the second week in a row and caught a touchdown pass.
“Defensively, we probably took a step backwards versus a really good group of skilled players,” Cossey said.
He said the Lions didn’t tackle in open field as well as they did in the first two games and that he lost two linebackers to injury. Although the injuries weren’t good news for the Lions, Cossey said he had guys come in off the bench and step in as best they could.
“Dalton Howard did provide a spark on the defensive line with a great effort off the bench,” Cossey said.
This week the Lions will be off and have a little more time to recover and prepare to face DeWitt for their first conference game of the season on Sept. 27. Cossey said the number one goal is to heal up, but after that they’ve got to get to work.
“From talking to other coaches, this is the best DeWitt team in nearly 20 years and they are talented enough to not only make the playoffs but possibly make a run,” Cossey said.
The Lions will spend this week working on fundamentals in what Cossey called Fall Camp 2.0.
“We will definitely have to play our best to get a big win as we open conference play,” Cossey said.
The first conference game will also be the Lions’ homecoming celebration night with festivities starting in the afternoon and continuing on throughout the game.
Kick off against DeWitt will be at 7 p.m.