BUIES CREEK, N.C. (WNCN) — The result on the scoreboard said Camels 42, Runnin’ Bulldogs 28 — a blowout in most books.
In reality, the game between Campbell and Gardner-Webb was far from it. Tied at 28 with less than 5 minutes remaining in the contest, the Campbell Camels took control against Gardner-Webb last week scoring a pair of touchdowns to seal their third straight win, second in the Big South.
When asked about the way his team finished that contest, a usually reserved Camels head coach Mike Minter could not help but smile saying: “I’m proud of our guys, I think they are starting to learn how to play true football games. That is what it looks likes when you’re big and physical and strong in the fourth quarter — you should start to separate and we did that.”
The win gives them a 2-0 record in the Big South and puts them in a 3-way tie for first with North Carolina A&T and two-time defending champ and preseason favorite Monmouth.
As fate would have it the Monmouth Hawks are next on the schedule. Minter wouldn’t have it any other way and is happy to get another shot at Monmouth especially after what happened the last time they played in 2019.
“In 2019 we had Kennesaw State come and then we had Monmouth right after so we’ve been here before and we didn’t get the job done,” said Minter. “We lost by three points to Kennesaw State and then Mammoth blew us out and celebrated in our locker room. So these are the type of things you keep in your mind and you look forward to when you get in that position again.”
One guy they are looking to slow down is Monmouth freshman quarterback Tony Muskett. He averages over 200 yards passing per game, has thrown 11 touchdowns in six games, and has rushed for two more.
Muskett has the arm strength and accuracy, with just four interceptions all year, of someone in his senior year along with the decision-making skills.
“We just have to keep him guessing and put pressure on him because I don’t care who you are, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, if you’ve got some pressure on your neck you start to look a little bit ordinary,” said Minter. “That’s what we need to do all game, just like we’ve done in the previous five weeks and we have a defensive line that will get after people.”
Helping Muskett out is running back Juwon Farri. He may have sat out the 2019 season but made up for it last spring finishing with 520 yards on 104 carries with 10 touchdowns in four games.
For his efforts, Farri was named the Big South Offensive Player of the Year.
“You can’t let them get started because they are very patient and they kind of remind me of Wake Forest with their running game,” said Minter. “They just kind of sit behind the line and then he just kind of stays square and he just picks a hole and goes. The linemen are great at getting you out of your gap and then that’s the gap he finds and he’s out the gate.”
The last few weeks the Camels have made a name for themselves scoring points late and pulling off wins in a dramatic fashion. Doing it against North Alabama and against Gardner-Webb is one thing. Doing it against the two-time defending Big South Champs is quite different.
“You can’t fall asleep against Monmouth because you’re not catching them,” said Minter. “Their defense is really good so it’s going to be hard for our offense to be explosive like that against Monmouth. But I think our guys understand what they’re getting into and the reality of it is you’re going to have to play at a high-level from the beginning to the end.”
Old school football fans should be in for a treat when these two teams take the field. When CBS 17’s Chris Clark asked if the Camels coaching staff was working on anything special for the Hawks we might not have seen, Minter took it back to the basics.
“This is not going to come down to scheme. Big games come down to man against man and player against player. Monmouth is not coming in with anything flashy and we’re not coming in with anything flashy — it’s going to be our guys against their guys and that is how it should be. It’s going to come down to who executes and who wins the one-on-one battles.”
One thing the coach did remind every player to do this week was to take time to realize how special what they are doing is.
“Enjoy the moments because everybody doesn’t get these moments, so don’t act like they just fall out the sky,” said Minter. “Not every team gets an opportunity to be in these type moments.”
It looks like Campbell junior quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams will not be able to go again this week due to a high ankle sprain he suffered against North Alabama. He’s been at practice walking around and just started jogging again which bodes well for a return sooner rather than later.
“He feels like he’s about 80 percent right now and I told him, ‘man I need you at 100’,” said Minter. “He’ll practice this week and we will see what he can do on it, but it’s good for him to be able to be bouncing around and practicing this week so that’s a good sign.”
The Camels kick off against Monmouth at 1 p.m. Saturday inside Barker-Lane Stadium.