Brunson throws four TD passes, defense forces six turnovers as Camden repeats as CJ Group 3 champion
The Camden High School football team celebrates its 47-14 victory over Cedar Creek in the Central Jersey Group 3 championship football game played at Lewis Katz Stadium at Farnham Park in Camden, New Jersey on Saturday, November 11, 2023. Lukas Guerrier/D2 Sports Network
CAMDEN (N.J.) - Camden quarterback Mahki Brunson was forced to miss the first four games of the season due to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association's transfer rules.
The junior watched from the sidelines as the Panthers suffered their lone defeat to Lake Taylor (Va.) in the season opener. He also watched his teammates as they rattled off numerous wins in a row.
Brunson was anxious to join his teammates, but his patience ultimately paid off.
The junior signal caller now has three playoff wins under his belt.
The Eastside transfer finished 13-for-19 passing for 263 yards and four touchdowns in Camden's latest outing. The Panthers scored 41 points over the final three quarters in a 47-14 triumph over Cedar Creek in the Central Jersey Group 3 final on Saturday afternoon.
"When I had to sit that first month I was just working my tail off the whole time," Brunson said. "It was hard at first because I wanted to play and I was real antsy. I missed the first four games. I was just watching. I just couldn't wait to get on the field and do what I wanted to do and win a sectional championship."
Fellow Eastside transfer Terron Loyd intercepted three passes on defense. Loyd returned his final pick for a 77-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to punctuate the Panthers' emphatic triumph.
"I saw the end zone," Loyd said. "All I saw was green grass and I knew nobody was gonna catch me."
Camden jumped out to a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter on a touchdown run by Nasere Blakney. A pair of touchdown passes from Brunson to Syracuse commit Braheem Long, Jr. and Malik Redd-Hubbard provided the Panthers with a 21-0 advantage with 11:17 left in the second quarter.
The Pirates responded with a three-yard touchdown run by Aamir Dunbar and a 16-yard touchdown pass to Darius Benjamin to cut the deficit to 21-14 with 33 seconds left in the opening half.
Camden dominated the second half. The Panthers scored 26 unanswered points and held Cedar Creek scoreless over the final 24 minutes of play.
Azir Lee and New Hampshire commit Eric Lee each snagged an interception on defense for Camden. Davon Howard and Haleem Muhammad each recorded a sack.
D'Hani Cobbs finished with four receptions for 65 yards and a score. He also charted a forced fumble and a sack on defense. Christian Braxton caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Brunson. Judah Anthony led the Panthers with 59 yards on the ground. Blakney finished with two touchdowns.
Camden's defense limited Cedar Creek's air attack to 157 yards and forced six turnovers. Dunbar led the Egg Harbor City program with 64 rushing yards and a score.
The Panthers have won back-to-back Central Jersey Group 3 titles since coach Rob Hinson returned to his alma mater. The program's last title prior to last season was won in 1976.
Hinson's group will travel to Delsea next Friday for a Group 3 state semifinals rematch. The Crusaders handed Camden a 20-14 loss at Cherokee High School last season.
"We worked all year for this to show people this is the new standard," Blakney said. "This is going to be an every-year thing from now on. It ain't going to be a one and done. This is going to be every single year. We just wanted to show everybody that we're No. 1 out here."