CAMERON - Paden City took one of the top running backs in the Valley to Marshall County Friday night, and while Taylor Still did his thing, it was a pair of Cameron standouts who made the difference in an important West Virginia Class A football game.
Senior Ryan Hughes and junior Mark Walker combined on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes as the Dragons grabbed a lead early, held on midway through, and pulled away late in a convincing 35-14 victory against the Wildcats at muddy Dragons Stadium.
Coach Jim Rogers' Cameron (3-3) squad and Brent Croasmun's Paden City team (2-3) were sitting just outside of the playoff picture entering the week, and the Dragons appear ready to move up the ladder.
"This is a real big win for us," Rogers said. "It was a big game for both of us where we sat in the playoff ratings."
Cameron took control early with a pair of first-quarter fumble recoveries that the Dragons were able to turn into touchdowns.
Hunter Yoders pounced on a loose ball on Paden City's first possession, giving the hosts the ball at the Wildcats 4. On first down, Andrew Hale took a pitch to the right and sailed into the end zone for a score.
Cameron used a fake extra-point to turn it into an 8-0 margin when holder Mark Walker stood up and delivered a pass to Clayton Ward for the deuce.
Paden City moved to the enemy 21 on its next drive, only to cough up the ball at the 20 with Taylor Neely recovering.
This time the Dragons needed 14 plays, including three fourth-down conversions, to move 80 yards. The initial first down came on a gift as the 'Cats jumped off sides on fourth-and-1 to keep the drive going. A short time later, senior quarterback Ryan Hughes busted up the middle for a 12-yard gainer on another fourth-and-1 call.
A Yoders 1-yard gainer not only provided the final fourth-down conversion of the drive, it capped the long march at 2:02 of the first. Nikolai Arnesen's point-after made it 15-0.
The Wildcats managed to get one back just before the half, using a long march of their own following a fumble recovery. Still did the brunt of the work on the 13-play, 65-yard drive, as he carried nine times for 43 yards, including the final 11 yards with 2:19 showing.
Still also took care of the 2-point conversion with a run straight up the gut to cut the deficit to 15-8, which stood at the half.
The Wildcats pulled closer late in the third quarter with an eight-play drive, all Still runs, that was capped with a 3-yard leap. The try for two failed, but the score was whittled down to 15-14.
"We made it interesting there for a little while," Rogers said. "Early on we took advantage of their mistakes, but we let them get momentum back just before the half and then they outplayed us for most of the third quarter.
"They had some life and breath, but Ryan (Hughes) threw a couple real nice passes that Mark Walker caught and turned into big plays to get us rolling again."
That only seemed to fire the Dragons up as they turned to the big play to take command once again.
Hughes got things going again with a fine fake and roll to the right that turned into a 62-yard touchdown run with 51 seconds showing in the third quarter. Arnesen's PAT made it 22-14.
A short time later, Hughes extended the count with a pretty 57-yard scoring strike to Walker with 11:04 to play. The point-after pushed the score to 29-14.
That same duo hooked up again 4 minutes later, this time from 41 yards out. The PAT failed, but the score had ballooned to 35-14.
"That back-side slant route is my favorite play in football," Croasmun said. "We just aren't to the point yet that we can run it, but they made the play a couple of times and it paid off for them.
"They were also able to capitalize on our mistakes, and we made some crucial ones. Overall, Cameron just completely outplayed us on both sides of the ball the entire game.
"We had a little momentum there for awhile, but turnovers and a couple of penalties killed us. We needed kids to make big plays and they just weren't there."
Cameron finished the contest with 309 yards- 137 on the ground and 172 through the air for Hughes. Walker hauled in six passes for 152 yards and a pair of scores.
Still finished with 41 carries for 189 yards, five below his season average, and a pair of touchdowns in a losing effort.