Camden mounted a comeback, but Cedar Creek’s Jamal Champman had other plans. The sophomore defensive lineman recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown as the Pirates topped the Panthers, 31-23, to win the Central Group 2 final on Saturday.

Cedar Creek (10-3) will play Hillside in the Group 2 regional championship next Sunday at 1 p.m. at Rutgers.

Senior quarterback Louie Barrios had two rushing touchdowns, including one that gave the Pirates a 24-7 lead in the fourth quarter. Senior Malachi Melton contributed an 81-yard rushing score.

Cedar Creek's Louie Barrios ran for two touchdowns.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Cedar Creek's Louie Barrios ran for two touchdowns.

Even though Camden trailed by multiple scores late in the fourth quarter, the Panthers didn’t quit.

Junior Jalin Brownlee tossed three touchdown passes. Senior Duce Chestnut caught one, and Kharie Blakney hauled in two. Blakney’s second score cut the Panthers deficit to one point, 24-23, but that’s as close as Camden would get. The Panthers ended the season 8-4.

Melton (16), shown here against Woodrow Wilson in September, scored on a long touchdown run on Saturday.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Melton (16), shown here against Woodrow Wilson in September, scored on a long touchdown run on Saturday.

The title game between Camden and Cedar Creek was pushed back one week due to the Panthers’ semifinal game at Pleasantville being rescheduled after spectators were shot during the game.

That game was later resumed at Lincoln Financial Field, and the Panthers topped Pleasantville, 22-0.