Home Features 2015 Playoffs Cameron Yoe Rallies to Edge Malakoff

Cameron Yoe Rallies to Edge Malakoff

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Traion Smith stands at 5-10 according to the media guide.  But the senior running back imitated an NBA center with a twisting, leaping interception on a two-point conversion to preserve a 45-44 win for Cameron Yoe over Malakoff in the Class 3A Division I area playoffs at Waco ISD Stadium.

“It’s just a blessing to have a great group of guys who never gave up,” Smith said.  We could have easily said, ‘It’s time to go play basketball.’  But around here, we never quit.”

With 3:31 remaining, Smith, who gained 185 yards on 22 carries, put the Yoemen, who trailed 32-7 late in the second quarter, in front on a 1-yard plunge.  Logan Boyett booted the extra point, giving Cameron (11-1) 45-38 lead and sending defensive thoughts into the minds of the Yoemen players and coaching staff.


But Malakoff (10-2) exploded with the unexpected as it had throughout the game.  Q. T. Baker fielded the kickoff at the 6, got outside the containment on right sideline, broke toward the middle just past midfield, and waltzed into the end zone for a 94-yard touchdown return.

Trailing by one, the Tigers went for the win with a bit of razzle-dazzle.  Running back Dylan Grimm took a direct snap, headed left, and handed off to Jake Woolverton on a reverse.

Woolverton stopped and lofted a pass to quarterback Judd Miller who had slipped behind the Cameron secondary.  Smith spotted the slightly underthrown ball, leaped, twisted in midair, and came down with game-saving interception.

With 3:12 remaining, Malakoff attempted an onside kick.  But once again, Smith found the right place at the right time and smothered the bouncing pigskin.  Cameron collected a first down then ran out the clock, advancing to the Class 3A Division I Region III semifinals.

“We practice those plays every day,” Smith said.  “Coach said get the ball, kneel down, and take the win.  That’s what we did.”

The Yoemen now face Grandview on Friday, November 27, at 1 p.m. in Waco ISD Stadium.   The win gave Cameron its 19thconsecutive playoff victory and continued the Yoemen’s quest for a fourth straight state title.

Down 32-23 at the half, Cameron managed to pull within a single second late in third quarter.  Starting a the Yoemen 33, Jacob Smitherman connected with Sicory Smith on back-to-back passes of 14 and 28 yards, and Traion Smith ripped off a 15-yard gain to the Tiger 10.  Two plays later, Smitherman, who threw for 234 yards in a 19-for-27 effort, sneaked across from the 2, and the Yeomen trailed 32-30.

The Tigers responded with their only sustained drive in the second half.  On the fourth quarter’s first play, Miller, who passed for 251 yards with 11 completions in 20 attempts, nailed Tyler Russell with a 36-yard scoring reception.  But Everado Garcia’s PAT sailed wide left, and Cameron remained within striking distance of a single touchdown.

On their next series, the Yoemen converted two fourth downs in marching 61 yards for the tying touchdown.  Smitherman hit Vincent Vargas for 17 yards on fourth-and-eight at the Tiger 37 and found Sicory Smith, who caught 11 passes for 160 yards, open in the end zone for a 4-yard catch on fourth-and goal.

On the two-point conversion, Smitherman appeared to be going down but shoveled the ball to Traion Smith at the last second, and Smith crossed the goal line to knot the game 38-38 with 6:31 remaining.

“Me and Coach Rhoades have a connection,” Sicory Smith said.  “He said big time players make big time plays, and you’ve got to make a play.”

Traion Smith gained all but three yards on the Yoemen’s final scoring drive covering 49 yards.  The senior broke off runs of 17 and 38 yards before breaking the plane from the 1.

“We didn’t play very well in the first half and gave them every chance in the world,” Cameron head coach Rick Rhoades said.  “But the bottom line is our kids made the plays they needed to make to keep us in the game in the first half and then made the plays they needed make in the second half to win the ballgame.”

Malakoff scored early and often in the first half.  Dylan Grim broke through the right side and went 41 yards to paydirt on the game’s second play.  But the Tigers missed the extra point and led 6-0.

On its first possession, Cameron tied the game lead when Sicory Smith swept right on a reverse from the 18.  Boyett kicked true, giving the Yoemen their only first-half lead at 7-6 with 8:26 left in the first quarter.

The Tigers dominated for next 13 minutes, scoring four touchdowns and moving out to 32-7 margin.   Barker got the fireworks ignited by stepping in front of Sicory Smith on a screen pass and taking the interception 41 yards for a score.

Malakoff recovered the ensuing kickoff when the pigskin took a backward bounce, but the Tigers stalled at the Yoemen 9 and turned the ball over on downs.  The Tigers forced Cameron into a quick three-and-out and needed only two plays to extend their lead.  Hunter hit Russell twice in succession, once for 21 yards and again for a 35-yard scoring reception, with just over a minute left in the first quarter.

Another three-and-out gave Malakoff possession at its own 14, and the Tigers went the distance in five plays.  Hunter connected A. J. Cook for a sure touchdown from the 15, but a block in the back reduced the gain to 65 yards, setting up Malakoff at the Yoemen 30.  Three plays later, Woolverton snared Hunter’s 33-yard scoring pass, giving the Tigers a 25-7 lead.

Malakoff scored once more in the first half after holding Cameron on downs at the Yoemen 28.  Cook burst through the right side from the 6, and the Tigers seemed in total command, leading 32-7 with 3:35 left before halftime.

But the Yoemen had other plans, and Cameron’s dormant offense awoke.  Smitherman found Sicory Smith in stride for a 56-yard gain to the Tiger 9, and Traion Smith bulled his way into the end zone on the next play.  Smitherman passed to Vargas for the two-point conversion, and the Yoemen narrowed the gap to 32-15.

Jay’Lon Bryant intercepted on Malakoff’s next possession, and the Yoemen set up shop at their own 30.  Cameron required just five plays to cut the lead to single digits.  Iverson Westbrook’s diving 12-yard touchdown reception came with 58 seconds remaining in the second quarter, and Smitherman ran for the two-point conversion, making the halftime score 32-23 in favor of the Tigers.

“We told our kids at halftime to keep their composure,” Rhoades said.  “When we first got down, we didn’t handle it real well.  But we were lucky to get the two scores and put us back in the game, and our kids responded very, very well.”

Scoring summary

Malakoff – 18-14-0-12 — 44
Cameron Yoe – 7-16-7-15 — 45

M – Dylan Grim 41 run (kick failed), 11:03 1Q
CY – Sicory Smith 33 run (Logan Boyett kick), 8:26 1Q
M – Q. T. Barker 41 interception return (run failed), 6:42 1Q
M – Tyler Russell 35 pass from Judd Miller (pass failed), 1:19 1Q
M – Jake Woolverton 33 pass from Miller (Everado Garcia kick), 9:36 2Q
M – A. J. Cook 6 run (Garcia kick), 3:35 2Q
CY – Traion Smith 9 run (Vincent Vargas pass from Jacob Smitherman), 2:57 2Q
CY – Iverson Westbrook 17 pass Smitherman (Smitherman run), 0:58 2Q
CY – Smithermann 2 run (Boyett kick), 3:03 3Q
M – Russell 36 pass from Miller (kick failed), 11:44 4Q
CY – Sicory Smith 4 pass from Smitherman (Traion Smith pass from Smitherman), 6:31 4Q
CY – Traion Smith 1 run (Boyett kick), 3:31 4Q
M – Barker 94 kickoff return (pass failed), 3:12 4Q

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Michael is the founder and editor of ProjectSpurs.com. He has a long history in journalism, sports and online media. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others.

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