After two games on the road to begin the 2015 season, Doc Harris Stadium was filled to the brim with fans eager to see the Camas football team in action Friday night.
“It’s the best feeling in the world having this town behind us,” said senior wide receiver Hunter Bruno.
The Papermakers rolled along to a 56-7 victory against Rogers, of Puyallup. Camas led 56-0 in the third quarter, before the Rams reached the end zone in the fourth.
“It felt good preparing for something all week and having it pay off,” said senior defensive lineman Jarrin Webb. “Everybody just did their job. We had a lot of big sacks and interceptions. It’s always nice to see your friends do well.”
It only took four plays after the opening kickoff for the Papermakers to reach the end zone. Quarterback Liam Fitzgerald saw the seas open up for him and he ran on through for a 57-yard touchdown. He also threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers.
“Sometimes, I just have to throw it up there,” Fitzgerald said. “I have confidence in my guys to make the big plays. I’m not too scared to throw it to them.”
Fitzgerald completed 19 passes for 318 yards in the game. Jared Bentley caught eight of those passes for 180 yards receiving.
The Papermakers didn’t allow the Rams to gain any positive yards until the final four minutes of the first half. Manase Nguamo ran over the Rogers quarterback during the first series to force a punt from the end zone. Camas lost possession on the punt, but got the ball right back after Luke Grindy and Blake Roy wrapped up the Rogers quarterback for another huge loss of yards.
Fitzgerald showed trust in his linemen and receivers when he slanted across the field and hit Sean Ramage with an 18-yard fade away pass in the end zone for a touchdown.
“He was my fourth read,” Fitzgerald said. “I saw him open in the back of the end zone. I couldn’t see the end of the play, but I heard the crowd. It was nice.”
Ramage put his hands up in the end zone after creating space between two defensive backs.
“Liam just threw it up to me, and I gauged the pass the right way,” Ramage said. “The defensive back didn’t tip it. The ball just fell right into my hands.”
David Aarhus and Marshall McIvor sacked the Rogers quarterback. Ryan Kempf then brought the scrambling quarterback down again. The Rams punted away after a third-and-29 pass failed.
Camas drove to first-and-goal on a long pass to Bentley and a few runs by Nguamo. Fitzgerald completed a touchdown pass to Bruno, but the officials called holding on the play. The Papermakers hit reset and Fitzgerald connected with Cooper McNatt on a 13-yard touchdown pass.
Rogers gained back-to-back first downs to cross the goal line for the first time, before Camas clamped down on defense again and forced another punt.
Bentley snagged the ball on the fly from Fitzgerald, took a hit, stayed on his feet and extended the play to 67 yards. Jordan Del Moral carried the ball a yard across the goal line for a touchdown.
Defensive back Jack Colletto snagged a one-handed interception to give Camas another opportunity to drive down the field in the final minute of the first half. Hunter Bruno caught a ball in front of the Camas sideline and stepped out of bounds with 17.9 seconds on the clock. Fitzgerald went for broke on fourth down and hit Bentley on the run for a 48-yard touchdown to give the Papermakers a 35-0 lead at halftime.
“He just made a fantastic catch,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t know how he stayed up and scored. That was all Jared.”
Ramage intercepted a pass for Camas on the second play of the third quarter. Roy broke through the line of defenders, caught the ball from Fitzgerald and carried it 18 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.
Michael Matthews intercepted a pass for the Papermakers. Nguamo made two big runs, but lost possession of the football in front of the goal line. Bruno jumped on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Camas recovered the ball on the kickoff. Nguamo then galloped into the end zone on a 47-yard touchdown run.
“We have such a solid community. Everything just works together,” Ramage said. “The fans really drive us. Without them, it wouldn’t be as fun of a time.”
The Papermakers will never forget their first home game of the season. Now, it’s time to head back out on the road. Camas (3-0) plays at Evergreen Friday. Kickoff is at 4:30 p.m., at McKenzie Stadium.
“Not everybody gets the amount of support that we get. Not everybody gets to play at Doc Harris,” Webb said. “We try not to take it for granted. Our coaches keep telling us we need to realize how lucky we are to play for this town.”