Top 13 Games Since 2010 - Finale

Today marks the final chapter in my top 13 Yoemen football games since 2010. Out of all of the variables measured to be included in this series, this game had a check mark up and down the list. Without further ado, the number game is the 2012 semifinal victory over Newton, 39-22.


Out of a very large amount of games played since that 2010 season, this one always comes back to be as the most special. Why? Well, there are a few reasons.


This was one of the best football games I have ever seen in person.

These are two programs that are known as powerhouses within their respective regions of the state.

Cameron and Newton both had state championship caliber football teams that season.


Cameron and Newton were both complete, well coached teams in 2012. The Yoemen had excellent senior and junior classes to create what was arguably the deepest roster of any of the state championship teams. For Newton, it was speed, speed, and a little more speed. That year, the Eagles had a dynamic trio in the backfield, including QB D.J. Dean (Arkansas), RB Kevin Shorter (Texas) and Brandon Johnson. Combined, the three had accounted for over 4,000 yards of offense, with a majority coming on the ground out of the run-heavy wing-t offensive set.


To beat Newton, you had to make the Eagles work for everything they got. In their 68-17 win over Teague in bi-district, 82-35 win over Grandview in area, and 49-13 throttling of Franklin in the quarterfinals, they overwhelmed their opponents with big play after big play. Simply put, those teams could not keep up and force their opponent to sustain drives.


That is where the Yoemen differed. Coach Rick Rhoades and his staff had an excellent game plan going in, and stuck with the entire game, despite trailing 22-8 in the second quarter. The Yoemen went on to score 31 unanswered points to secure their spot in the state championship game the following week.


To the game.


1st Quarter

Both fans bases were more than ready for this one to kick off as anticipation had been building for what was to come.


Newton received the opening kickoff and went right to work on the ground, but picked up only one first down before punting the ball away. The Yoemen also could not get anything going on their opening drive, going three and out.


The aforementioned speed then came through for the boys from Southeast Texas, as Johnson

took a handoff up the middle and was gone for a 63-yard score. The 2-point conversion run by Dean was successful to put the Eagles up 8-0 with 5:34 remaining in the quarter.


With a 2nd and 20 from their own five, the Yoemen were in a tough position. Kopriva was swarmed on at the 1 before being able to release the ball, but a facemask penalty created a 1st and 10 from the 20 instead of a 3rd and 24 from the 1.


Two plays later the Yoemen struck. With all 11 Eagle defenders within five yards of the line of scrimmage, the call was a quick slant to Aaron Sims in the middle of the field. The speedy receiver had one step on his man and was gone for the 79-yard score.


Cameron elected to go for the tie and went back to the slant, with outsider receiver Colton Shuffield hauling in this one to knot things back up at 8.


Dean and the Newton offense continued to put the pressure on. The future Razorback had runs of 27 and 11 yards on a scoring drive. The extra point attempt was blocked, and the deficit was at 14-8 to wrap up the 1st.


2nd Quarter

Cameron went backwards on their next drive and had to punt from their own 15. The front line from Newton penetrated and blocked Kopriva’s punt. An Eagle scooped up the loose ball and walked into the end zone. Dean ran in another two-point conversion to put his team up 22-8 just seconds into the quarter.


This was really a do or die moment for Cameron. The Eagles were used to jumping on opponents and then piling on, but that did not happen on this night in The Woodlands. The Yoemen responded back.


Cameron started the ensuing drive from their own 38 after a nice return by Zach Felts. Running-back Keaton Denio then had his biggest run of the game thus far, breaking one 16 yards into Eagle territory. Two plays later, Colton Shelton got by his man for a 40-yard TD reception. Michael Evan’s kick was blocked, but the game was back to one possession at 22-14 with 9:28 left in the quarter.


This time the Yoe defensed bowed their necks, holding Newton on 3 downs. The Eagles ran a fake punt on 4th down, but Evan and Somari Wright right were there to bring him down a foot short of the line to gain at the Yoe 44. The offense took advantage of the excellent field position. A 19-yard pass from Kopriva to Shuffield followed by a 13-yard run by Denio saw the ball sitting at the Newton 25. A designed QB run by Kopriva moved the ball down to the 2.


It took a total of five plays, but the Yoemen finally got in on a QB keeper over the right side of the line. On the play before (4th down), Kopriva had attempted to throw to Denio, but he was grabbed before the ball could get to him, causing a flag to be thrown. It was not known to me,

but the flag was thrown with Denio behind the line of scrimmage, resulting in half the distance to the goal without an automatic first down. So, the Kopriva run was still a 4th down play instead of 1st and goal.


On the two-point conversion, Kopriva location Felts in the right corner of the endzone to square things back up at 22.


On Newton’s final drive of the half, it appeared that Dean was about to cash in more points. On a 3rd and 8 from the 36, Dean broke up the middle with only Tyler Sapp standing in his way from a long TD run. Sapp not only tripped up the speedy quarterback, but also caused him to fumble the ball. Jalen White was there to pick it up and return it to the Eagle 44.


With limited time on the clock, Kopriva managed to connect with Felts for 16 yards to set up a 45-yard field goal attempt from Evan. As the kick sailed off the foot of the junior, both sides were silent. Moments later, Yoe fans erupted as the ball sailed through the uprights to give Cameron the 25-22 lead at the break.


3rd Quarter

The third was a quick quarter which saw both of these fine defenses stiffen up. Newton did present a few threats in the period, but the Yoe defense was up to the challenge both times. Headed to the final quarter of play, Newton had the ball with a 2nd and 15 from their own 41.


4th Quarter

This is the portion of the game when Cameron got Newton out of their game plan. Newton is known for their running game. That is the way it has always been for the Eagles, whether we are talking about 1981 or 2012. If Newton were to throw the ball, they wanted do it on their terms. They no longer had that luxury.


On a 3rd and 15, it was a predictable passing situation. The ball overshot the Newton receiver followed by the Yoe defender, and a punt was in order.


The Yoemen set up shop at their own 38. On the very first play, the Yoemen took a shot down field, and for the third time a Yoe receiver got behind a defender. Shelton had 2 steps on his man and hauled in a 40-yard catch to the 21.


On a 3rfd and 15, Koriva went back to Shelton. This time it was not caught, but only because an Eagle was on his back at the time. The flag was thrown by the back judge to give Cameron a fresh set of down.


Two plays later, Shelton was open in the endzone for the 16 yard TD to put Cameron up 32-22 with 7:36 remaining. There was still plenty of time of the clock, but at this point, I felt one more stop may do it.


On 3rd and 1, Newton chose to run a slower developing play to the left side. Yoe DB Justin Pratt grabbed the defender, allowing Michael Gelner and a host of others to help bring down the ball carrier for a 1-yard loss.


On 4th down, the call was a pass over the top. The receiver was there an open, but the ball was dropped. Once again, this was not Newton’s forte as the Yoemen took over at their own 46.


A few plays later, there was a 3rd and 7 from the 37. The call was a read. For the Yoe offense, this works just like play action as the ball appears to be handed off. For the fourth time on the night, a Yoe receiver was behind the defense as White iced the game by cashing in the final points.


Top Offensive Performances: Jason Kopriva (8-15 passing, 251 yards, 4 TD, 1 rushing TD), Keaton Denio (17 rushes, 53 yards), Colton Shelton (3 catches, 96 yards, 2 TD), Aaron Sims (2 catches, 79 yards, 1 TD), Jalen White (1 catch, 38 yards, 1 TD), Michael Evan (45-yard field goal)

Top Defensive Performances: Somari Wright (17 tackles), Edgar Luna (16 tackles, 1 sack, 1 fumble caused), Tyler Sapp (14 tackles, 1 fumble caused), Jalen White (7 tackles, 1 fumble recovery).