Amid the off-field distractions and being without a head coach for three days of practice Cedarville did all it could.

With the team playing flat in the first half, and battling back in the second, Cedarville dropped the 3A-4 Conference game to Lamar 28-12 Friday night at Glen Wisely Field.

Mountainburg (3-3, 3-2 2A-4) dropped a 42-7 decision to conference leader Hector (6-0, 4-0) in Wildcat territory. Sophomore Samuel Copeland had the only score for the Dragons on a 12-yard run.

Lamar 28, Cedarville 12

"The defense played well, but we’re just too beat up," said head coach Mark Shelton, who spent the better part of the week in the hospital and missed three days of practice with his squad. "We just had some guys that normally play well, just not play well at all (Friday) night.

"Lamar is a Top 10 team, and we were in the middle of them up until the end."

Cedarville’s defense made goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter. Lamar (6-0, 3-0) was fourth-and-goal from the Pirate 1, when junior Corey Fincher came up with a pancake block to flatten out the ballcarrier, Ryan James.

The Pirates (5-1, 2-1) took over at their own 1. A miscommunication on the ensuing play, and Cedarville fumbles in the end zone to be recovered by Dusty Wilkins. After Dyllanjer Choate’s PAT, the Warriors were up 21-12.

Cedarville gets the ball back, but since the kickoff was mishandled, the Pirates began on their own 6. Two plays later and on quarterback Dylan Shelton’s 45th pass attempt of the night, he hit Lamar’s Logan Yarbrough, who went in untouched from the Cedarville 18 for the second score. The Warrior defense scored twice in a manner of 16 seconds to extend the lead, 28-12.

Pirate quarterback Shelton was 24 of 50 for 281 yards with one six-yard TD pass to Abraham Hernandez, and two interceptions. He also had a six-yard run for Cedarville’s other score.

The Pirates dropped 14 passes during the game.

The defense hit Braxton Sampley for six sacks with Timothy Julian dropping the opposing QB four times. Logan Wheeler and Damien King also had a sack.

Cedarville’s offensive line also gave up six sacks.

The momentum shifted on Lamar’s final possession of the game. Cedarville’s defense had forced Lamar to punt on four second-half possessions after intercepting earlier.

The Warriors were looking at a third-and-10 from Cedarville 47, then Hernandez picked off Sampley, and returned it to about the Warrior 30. However, he was flagged for pass interference, late in the return, which gave Lamar the ball back with a first down.

Eight plays later, the Warriors were stopped at the Pirate 1 with 2:00 remaining in the game.

"That was a game-changer," said coach Shelton of the penalty. "We shouldn’t have, but we got our heads down, and it took the wind from us.

"We might not have scored if we were allowed to keep that interception, but the game would have been a lot closer, and we wouldn’t have made so many forced mistakes there at the end."

In all, Lamar earned three of its 11 first downs via penalties. Whereas Cedarville was only flagged four times on defense. The Pirates had five penalties total for 53 yards. Lamar had 10 penalties (five on both offense and defense) for a total of 66 yards.

Both defenses forced punts most of the evening as Lamar had to punt away six times, and Cedarville punted eight times.

In the first half, Blake Kern scored Lamar’s first touchdown on a 43-yard pass and Hunter Sanders scored on a 25 yard run.

Sampley was 10 of 19 for 132 yards. Sanders led the ground game with 154 yards on 13 carries.

Next week Cedarville hosts Paris, while Charleston visits Lamar for the 3A-4 Conference title.