By Tim Chambers
The Bulldogs were unable to run with the “Big Dogs” on Friday night allowing Johnson County to remain unbeaten in 2017. The Longhorns were clicking on all cylinders that led to their 34-0 shutout win over Claiborne County inside of Paul McEwen Stadium.
The Longhorns, ranked No. 3 in the latest Associated Press 3-A state polls, are now 6-0 on the season and remain tied with Unicoi County for the conference lead at 3-0. The Blue Devils beat Chuckey-Doak 40-27 in Afton on Friday to stay in the hunt.
Head coach Don Kerley liked what he saw from his Longhorns. His team committed only one turnover and had one penalty en route to their victory.
“I felt like we played pretty good across the board especially in the second half,” said Kerley. “It appeared as if our depth wore them down because we played a lot of players in the first half. They want to play, and the more you play kids, the more they like it. All these boys have worked hard in practice for that opportunity and deserve a chance. We’ve got some talented kids and they all contribute.”
It was a who’s who among contributors because several gave outstanding performances.
The Longhorns got off to a good start, marching 65 yards in seven plays on their first possession. Bud Icenhour bulled his way into the end zone from two yards out after reeling off a 30-yard run to get them inside the red zone.
The Horns led 6-0 after the missed PAT.
The offense sputtered a bit after that, but the defense didn’t miss a beat. The Longhorns had one drive stall when Hayden Hollin intercepted a pass but then came back and got their second touchdown just before the half ended.
Nathan Arnold hit Icenhour with a 7-yard touchdown pass with 1:32 remaining in the half. Jared Kimble booted the extra point for a 13-0 halftime advantage.
Arnold completed 9-14 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those came in the second half after he sat out a series in the first half, getting checked out after a hard hit.
“I had three different receivers catch touchdown passes and the offensive line blocked great,” said Arnold. “I thought Jordan Edes-King stepped up and played an all-around great game especially filling in on the offensive line. Now we have to get ready for a good Happy Valley team. We know they will be ready to play down there.”
The defense kept pitching a shutout, getting sacks from Hayden Osborne and Jordan Edes-King in the third quarter. The Bulldogs had their biggest play, a 44-yard pass from Eli Stone to Hollin, but they couldn’t get the ball past the Horns’ 41.
The Longhorns needed a big play and they got it on their next possession.
Zack Eller hauled in a long pass from Arnold and took it 78 yards for a touchdown with 4:20 remaining in the third.
“Coach told us in practice that the corner would pick either me or the other receiver,” said Eller. He picked the other and I was wide open. I knew I could score when I caught it out in front of everyone. This win proves that we’re playing pretty well. I think we’ve proved ourselves to be a pretty good team.”
Arnold proved he could throw with the best of them by delivering the decisive dagger to start the fourth quarter.
His 43-yard touchdown pass to a speedy Shane Greer made it 27-0 after Kimble’s successful PAT. The defense would deliver the encore.
Tyler Norris forced a fumble on a sack and then returned it 58 yards to the 19. Icenhour scored his third TD of the game on a 10-yard run to cap off the scoring with 6:45 remaining.
Icenhour ended the night with 93 yards rushing on 14 carries and three scores. He said the win was a total team effort.
“The line just made some big holes and I hit them hard,” said Icenhour. “I just followed my blockers and they led the way. Our defense and offense both played great. This was a big conference win for us.”
Shane Greer led the receiving corps with four catches for 86 yards.
The defense was rock solid led by Osborne’s 13 tackles including two for losses and a sack. He smiled when asked about the shutout.
“We wanted it really bad,” said Osborne. “Our offense stepped up and did the job and we wanted to do our part. We want to show teams that we’ve got a complete football team.”
Edes-King added 10 tackles and a sack. R.J. Snyder and Norris provided seven apiece. Kimble, Logan Potter and Nathan Lane each had five.
“We had a starting lineman out for the first half so I volunteered to play there,” said Edes-King. “I love to block and pancake people. I played there in the eighth grade which made it easier. Our defense got some pressure on them and I think that took them out of their rhythm. It was just a matter of us doing our jobs and doing them well.”
The No. 3 ranked Longhorns will travel to Happy Valley on Friday to take on the No 9 team in 2A. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm.
Johnson County 40, Claiborne Co. 0
Claiborne Co. 0 0 0 0 — 0
Johnson Co. 6 7 7 14 — 34
JC—Icenhour 2 run (kick failed) 9:38
JC—Icenhour 7 pass from N. Arnold (Kimble kick) 1:32
JC—Eller 78 pass from N. Arnold (Kimble kick) 4:20
JC—Greer 43 pass from N. Arnold (Kimble kick) 11:50
JC—Icenhour 10 run (Kimble kick) 6:45
Team Stats CC JC
1st Downs 6 16
Rushing yards 38-120 34-162 Passes A/C/I 5-11-0 9-15-1
Passing Yards 60 185
Total Offense 180 347
Fumbles 3-1 1-0
Punts 3-38 1-47
Penalties 4-25 1-5
Individual Stats (Johnson County Only)
Rushing: Icenhour 14-93, Hampton 7-25, N. Arnold 5-17, T. Arnold 3-15, Kimble 1-0, Webster 1-9, St. Greer 1-3
Passing: N. Arnold 9-14-1 185, St. Greer 0-1-0 0
Receiving: Greer 4-86, Eller 1-78, Icenhour 2-10, T. Arnold 2-11
Sacks: Edes-King, Osborne
Fumble Recoveries: Norris
Tackles (3 or more): Osborne 13, Edes-King 10, Snyder 7, Norris 7, Kimble 5, Potter 5, Lane 5, Herman 4, Bower 3, Eller 3, Clawson 3