By Greg Jayne For The Weekly Herald
The Camas Papermakers parlayed four first-half fumble recoveries Saturday into a reservation for the Tacoma Dome.
The Papermakers defeated Meadowdale 40-0 at Doc Harris Stadium in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state football playoffs, advancing to a semifinal matchup Friday in Tacoma against O’Dea of Seattle. For Camas, it will be the first trip to the final four in school history.
“It feels great; it’s amazing,” quarterback Tony Gennaro said after throwing three touchdown passes. “It’s an incredible moment.”
There were plenty of moments for the Papermakers (11-1) against previously unbeaten Meadowdale (11-1). But the most significant one came in the final minute of the first quarter.
With both defenses dominating the early going, Camas got on the scoreboard when Anthony Fallin scooped up a fumble on one hop and ran 50 yards for a touchdown.
“I felt like there was a little lack of composure early on,” Camas coach Jon Eagle said. “That gave us confidence that we can do this.
“It’s a teachable moment. We hadn’t been in a game where our offense was getting shut down.”
On Fallin’s touchdown, Meadowdale had attempted a direct snap to the running back, but the snap was high and got deflected into the air.
“He didn’t see it; he was looking around for it,” Fallin said. “I didn’t expect a perfect bounce.”
That proved to be all the points the Papermakers needed, as Camas’ defense shut down Meadowdale’s power running game.
“They’re big and strong, and we couldn’t get a push,” Meadowdale coach Mark Stewart said. “We’ve been able to move the ball, and we’ve moved it on everybody all year.”
But not Saturday. The Papermakers held the Mavericks to 72 yards on the ground and to 155 yards of total offense.
“I expected a lot closer game; I really did,” Eagle said. “The film we saw they just dominated.
“I think the turnovers got them behind real quick. When you run a power offense, you have to control the ball.”
Following Fallin’s touchdown, Camas’ Zach Marshall recovered a fumble on Meadowdale’s next play from scrimmage. That led to a missed field-goal attempt by the Papermakers, but the carnage was just beginning.
Camas added a 13-yard scoring run by Marshall and a 25-yard TD pass from Gennaro to Jonathan Warner for a 21-0 halftime lead, with each score coming after fumble recoveries.
“We’d been watching Meadowdale on film all week, and we came in here prepared for a battle,” defensive lineman Kamari Brown said. “When we came out and scored, we gained momentum and we just took it to them.”