Longhorns defense struggles to keep the Hampton Bulldogs running game in check during Friday night’s game. Photo by Joey Icenhour
By Tim Chambers
Any chance of a Johnson County win over Hampton was put to rest in the early stages of Friday’s football game inside Paul McEwen Stadium. Hampton dominated the game from start to finish and came away with a convincing 33-0 win on a rainy Friday. The Bulldogs had their way throughout the game as their offensive line pushed the Longhorns’ defense all over the field. And when the Horns needed just two yards to score a touchdown, they were turned away by the Bulldogs’ defensive unit.
“I thought our big guys just wore them down,” said Hampton’s head coach Michael Lunsford. “I believe it wore on them. Our defense played well and didn’t let them get into the end zone when they had a shot at scoring. We were rotating a lot of guys in and out, and I thought all of them played well.”
He got no argument from Johnson County’s head coach Don Kerley who complimented the No. 10 team in the state Class 2A.
“They are definitely a good football team that is very physical upfront,” said Kerley. “They are a playoff team who could go far. Our kids played hard, but I just thought they were better. Tip your hat to Hampton. They played a very good football game.”
Kerley’s assessment was spot on for a team that could be ranked in the top five this week when the polls come out.Hampton got on the scoreboard before most people got inside the stadium in the first quarter at the 3:37 mark. Hampton’s first drive ate up almost the entire first quarter. Aiden Vines capped off a 16-play, 76-yard drive by finding the end zone from 35 yards out down the left sideline. Michael Harrison’s extra point put Hampton on top 7-0.Hampton began sensing that Johnson County couldn’t score on their defense by settling for a 30 yard Harrison field goal with 6:47 remaining in the first half. They would take that 10-0 advantage into
the locker room at halftime.
Johnson County’s anemic offense sputtered all night long and couldn’t muster anything against the Dog’s defense. They only managed to make two first downs in the first 30 minutes of the game and were then turned away at the one-yard line in the third quarter after having the football on the four-yard line with three plays to get it in. Hampton later took advantage of a costly Longhorns interception that allowed the Dogs to get their next score.
Jonathan Greenwell picked off a Longhorns’ pass and returned it 35 yards for another touchdown with 10:51 remaining in the third. That extended Hampton’s lead at 17-0.That was the beginning of the onslaught because Hampton sensed the kill and went for the jugular. Connor Johns showed why he considered one of the best quarterbacks in the area calling his own number for a 57-yard touchdown run with Harrison adding the PAT to make it 24-0.
Johnson County finally threatened to score in the third quarter but was stuffed on the two by Hampton’s stellar defensive line play. Brown tried a quarterback keeper on a fourth and two up the gut but was able to get only one yard giving the ball back to Hampton.The Bulldogs took advantage of their second interception of the game to set up their final score. A 40 yard run by Levi Lunsford set up a five-yard touchdown run by Jones to make it 31-0. Hampton would later add a safety to close out their scoring. Hampton’s coaching staff showed a good sign of sportsmanship by taking a knee on the one-yard line with 10 seconds remaining in the game instead of punching it in.
The raining conditions kept the ball on the ground as Lunsford indicated that Jones would have thrown the ball more in normal conditions. Jones completed two passes in five attempts. He ended the game with 75 yards rushing on nine carries and two scores. Vines rushed for 130 yards on 22 carries to lead the Bulldogs’ ground attack. Morgan Lyons added 45 on 15 attempts.
Johnson County’s Dalton Brown rushed for 53 yards on 17 carries. The Longhorns offense could muster only 74 yards against the Bulldogs’ stingy defense. The lone bright spot for the Longhorns was the 17 tackles recorded by Ryan Morefield on defense. The Longhorns will travel to undefeated Claiborne County on Friday in an important District game with the Bulldogs.