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Eagles drop season finale at Mo. Baptist

Justin Addison, Editor/Publisher
Posted 11/14/23

The Central Methodist football program closed the 2023 season with a 56-24 loss to Heart newcomer Missouri Baptist on Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.

Both teams entered the season with just one …

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Eagles drop season finale at Mo. Baptist


The Central Methodist football program closed the 2023 season with a 56-24 loss to Heart newcomer Missouri Baptist on Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.

Both teams entered the season with just one win apiece. Central’s lone victory came on its first road game of the season in week two at Culver-Stockton College. (The Wildcats also finished the season 1-10 overall.)

The Eagles finish the year with a 1-10 overall record and a 0-5 mark in the Heart of America South Division, matching last season’s record. Missouri Baptist concludes its season at 2-8 and 1-4 in the South.

In spite of what the final score may indicate, Central played a fiercely competitive first half.

Missouri Baptist took an early lead, scoring on the opening drive of the game. After receiving the kickoff from CMU’s Oscar Simon, the Spartans began their drive at the 11-yard line. MBC then moved the ball 89 yards over nine plays, concluding the three-minute drive with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Simpson to Joseph White.

After trading interceptions over the next two possessions, the Eagles answered on a long passing touchdown from midfield. Senior quarterback Joe Cambridge hit junior wide receiver Drake Dudley on a 56-yard pass and run for a touchdown with 7:56 left to play in the opening quarter.

Simon’s kick was good, tying the game at even each.

The game would remain deadlocked until Mo. Baptist took a lead just 10 seconds into the second quarter on a two-yard rushing score. The touchdown would give the Spartans a lead it would never relinquish. 

The Spartans took a two-touchdown lead on another short-yardage run with 5:12 left in the first half.

Central’s answer came by way of a 24-yard field goal from Simon on two minutes later. After opening the drive with a 63-yard run by Charles Johnson to the Spartans 12-yard line, CMU’s drive stalled.

Simon’s kick would cut the deficit to 11 points, but Central continued to trail. Mo. Baptist would score once more to take a 28-10 lead into halftime.

Undaunted, the Eagles scored right out of the gate in the second half on another extended pass play. Cambridge connected with Quinn Whitley on a 54-yard pass play for a touchdown barely two minutes into the third quarter.

A two-point conversion attempt failed, making the score 16-28.

Missouri Baptist’s offense continued to outplay CMU’s defense throughout the second half. The Spartans built a 49-16 lead by the end of the third quarter.

The Eagles would score once more, this time on a 19-yard pass from Cambridge to AJ Allen on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Cambridge then found Arron Edwards with a pass for a successful two-point conversion.

But the Eagles would come no closer. The Spartans added one more touchdown on a 56-yard rushing play with just under six minutes left to play. The PAT was good, making the final score 56-24.

Central’s offense continued to struggle on third down, converting just three of 13 chances and forcing seven punts. The Spartans converted 11 of 17 third-down situations.

Missouri Baptist led in nearly every statistical category, picking up 642 total yards of offense, compared to 365 for Central. The Spartans rushed for 359 yards while holding CMU to 68.

In his final game, Cambridge completed 18 of 39 passing attempts for 297 total yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.

Quinn Whitley led the receiving core with six catches for 107 yards and a touchdown reception from Cambridge. 

Drake Dudley hauled in three catches for 79 yards, followed by the duo of Chase Rankin and AJ Allen, who each recorded four catches. Dudley and Allen also made a touchdown reception.

Charles Johnson led the rushing attack , picking up 71 yards on nine carries. Junior kicker Oscar Simon converted a 24-yard field goal and his lone extra point attempt of the afternoon.

On the defensive side of the ball, Joseph Slattery led the way with 14 tackles, including a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. 

KeShawn Wilson added eight tackles. Frank Galios and Le’Marcus Washington each recorded six. Freshman linebacker Ashton Stine recorded an interception midway through the first quarter.

While Saturday’s game was the final of the season, it’s still early in the new era of CMU football, led by first-year head coach Dave Brown. Hired in March after the late departure of previous coach David Callaway, Coach Brown quickly put together a coaching staff and went to work. 

The first year of a rebuilding process can often leave fans squeamish. However, Central Methodist administration, as well as this newspaper, have high expectations for Coach Brown and his coaching staff over the next few years. The Eagles boasted three local players on the roster this year, all former Falcons. Of those, former Fayette phenom and Eagle sophomore Garren Vroman and junior tight end transfer Zane Rice saw varsity action this season. 

Vroman averaged 26.6 yards per carry over five games before he was sidelined with an injury. Rice made seven receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown in five games played this season.

The third player from Fayette to suit up in an Eagles uniform this year was freshman Ben Wells. He is one of eight quarterbacks this season on the CMU roster hoping to earn varsity time next season.

Coach Brown now has a full offseason to recruit and prepare before stepping onto Davis Field for his sophomore effort next fall.

Elsewhere, No. 2 nationally ranked Grand View University won the 2023 Heart Football North Division Conference Championship. The win marked the team’s fifth-straight Heart Conference Championship and 50th-straight conference victory.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced the 20-team field and the matchups for the First Round of the NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS) on Sunday. The FCS will kickoff on Saturday, November 18, at four campus sites across the country. The Top 12 seeds receive a first-round bye. 

The full field features 13 automatic qualifiers and seven at-large berths. In order to qualify for an automatic bid, teams must win their conference regular season or division titles. At-large berths were determined by the NAIA Football National Selection Committee. Teams earning an at-large berth must be ranked in the Top 25 of the final NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 poll.

The 68th Annual NAIA Football National Championship will culminate on December 18 at Durham County Memorial Stadium in Durham, N.C.

From the Heart, Grand View (2nd) and Evangel (9th) are among the top 12 qualifiers. Baker (8-2) also qualified after winning the Heart South Division and will host Louisiana Christian (9-1) in the first round.


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