By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
BLUFF CITY—Johnson County’s football performance on Thursday was like watching a prize MMA fight. They landed a couple of impressive kicks midway through the game that connected with a knockout punch to start the third quarter.
The end result was a 14-0 shutout victory for the Horns over Sullivan East at the Patriots Pasture in their season opener. It was a game that Johnson County’s defense dominated from start to finish.
The Patriots could muster only 110 yards total offense, and 55 of those came on their last drive of the game with the Horns in a prevent defense.
“We challenged our kids at halftime to come out and block and get after it,” said Johnson County’s head coach Don Kerley. “We made too many mistakes early, but we corrected a lot of it. Our defense played lights out, and I thought they completely dominated the game. Tyler Norris had a huge game and, I thought, Troy Arnold played a good all-around game. Our coaches did great, and Coach Bo Henson called the plays and kept running the football at them. We played a lot of kids, and I thought our depth wore them down in the second half.”
Thunder Foot Duo:
Neither team could generate any offense in the first half, but the Horns had two weapons that East did not have.
Jared Kimble got off a pair of punts that totaled 44 and 42 yards that kept the Patriots backed up around their own 20. Tyrone McFadden added a couple of long field goals that proved to be just what the Longhorns needed.
His first year cleared the crossbar from 42 yards out that give them a 3-0 advantage. His second one was perfect from 43 yards after the Horns had moved the football 45 yards on nine plays.
“Both of them are great kickers,” said Kerley about the duo. “They gave us the momentum we needed going into halftime.”
Longhorns’ offense compliments the defense:
The Longhorns logged only 51 yards of total offense in the first half, so the coaching staff decided to make some changes to start the third quarter.
They came out in Army’s wishbone offense that many refer to as a full house backfield these days, which started at their 34-yard line. Arnold had a pair of big runs of 11, and seven yards on fourth down plays that kept the 12-play, 66 yards drive alive.
Nathan Lane provided a pair of carries that totaled 16 yards before Arnold bulldozing his way for 12 more down to the two. Stacey Greer took it in from there for a 14-0 lead after with 6:19 remaining in the quarter.
The Longhorns followed up that drive with a 15-play one that nearly ate up over eight minutes off the clock in the fourth. The drive stalled on a botched field goal attempt after a penalty had nullified the first one.
“I should have called time out there and went for the touchdown,” said Kerley.
The Patriots had the football only two possessions in the second half that totaled six plays for minus seven yards before their final drive. The Longhorns had the ball 28 times out of the first 35 plays ran in the second half.
East drove down to the 1-yard line late in the game but was turned away thanks to a pair of great defensive plays from Tyler Phillips and Arnold.
“Johnson County did a good job of moving around, and they took away some things we like to do,” said East coach Mike Locke. “We couldn’t get the ball from them, and that was the difference out here tonight.”
Arnold rushed for 55 yards on 15 carries. Lane caught four passes for 50 yards and rushed for 20 more on six carries.
Tyler Norris dominated the defense with 13 tackles including three for losses and a sack. Jared Kimble added nine tackles while Stacey Greer collected six and Lane contributed five. Ethan Bower and Colt Moody logged three apiece.
Zack Eller and Lane broke up a pair of passes each to lead the secondary. Eller had a 34-yard kickoff return, and Webster provided a fumble recovery.
Closing Comments by players & Coach Kerley:
Coach Don Kerley: “We had to try and find something that worked offensively. We missed too many assignments when we ran from the wing but did a much better job out of our full house backfield.”
Nathan Lane: “We know who their main guys were on offense, so we had to contain them. Our goal was not to let them get outside on us at any time. Our overall speed gave them trouble. We wanted to show everyone that our team this year could play too.”
Troy Arnold: “We came here to make a statement. We’re not last year’s team, but we can get the job done. Johnson County has always been a power football team, so we came out in the second half and dominated the time of possession.
Tyrone McFadden: “I’m pretty confident in my kicking abilities. I made a 52-yarder at practice on Wednesday, so the coaches have confidence in me too. I knew our team needed to be picked up, so hitting the field goals got us the lead. This is a game we all wanted. We’re pleased to leave here with a victory.”
Tyler Norris: “We were hungry for a shutout win and didn’t want to let them score at the end. We were flying around to the football, and our speed really hurt them. I thought our secondary did a great job of not giving them anything. It was definitely a huge win for us with Hampton coming in next week.”
Final game details: Johnson County rushed for 102 yards as a team on 38 carries. They were 7-for-15 in the air for 58 with the longest one being a 23-yard completion from Kimble to Lane off a faked punt.
For the first time in years,
the Longhorns played a quintet of freshmen. John Stout started at right tackle. Corie
Neely played on both sides of the ball. Zack Parsons saw
lots of action at tight end. Nate Rice got the ball at linebacker and on special teams. Ethan Icenhour was the long snapper on field goals, extra points and punts.
Johnson County 14,
Sulllivan East 0
JCHS 0 6 8 0 — 14
Sullivan East 0 0 0 0 — 0
JC—McFadden 42 FG
JC—McFadden 43 FG
JC—Greer 2 run (Arnold pass to Lane)