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JCHS Longhorns conquer Sullivan Central Cougars 14-6

By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
[email protected]

A “Hard Day’s Night” put in against Sullivan Central left Johnson County “Feeling Fine” before a large crowd inside Paul McEwen Stadium on Friday. The Longhorns got plenty of “Help” from several different players in a 14-6 win over the Cougars.
It was a “Ringo Starr-like” performance for the ‘Horns who dazzled the crowd with several big hitters, only to see some of them wiped off because of penalties. Still they managed to keep their composure and pull out their first win of the season.
“I thought our kids played hard on every snap and the defense played great,” said JCHS’ head coach Don Kerley. “Those guys up on the defense line (Hayden Osborne, Jordan Edes-King, Sam Allen, Navada Woodard) stood out. Payton Fenner played great as did Dakota Wright and Samuel Icenhour.
“We gave up some yards passing but they played good. That first win is always hard to get, but hopefully we will get a bunch more. I am proud of everyone’s effort tonight.”
The Longhorns had to play from behind because Sullivan Central got on the board first. Johnson County had a golden opportunity to dent the board first but shot themselves in the foot on their first drive.
Ethan Krtausch went high in the air to intercept Nathan Arnold’s pass in the end zone that halted their second drive. The ‘Horns returned the favor when Samuel Icenhour picked off Drew Robinette with 5:14 remaining in the first quarter.
“That wasn’t a bad throw by Nate,” said Kerley. “Their guy made a great catch on the interception. He was trying to make us a play.”
The game remained scoreless until the 9:19 mark in the second quarter. Robinette hit Tyler Cox for a 28-yard touchdown pass that put Central up 6-0.
Johnson County (1-3) got on the board with 2:46 remaining in the half. Bud Icenhour burst up the gut for a 2-yard touchdown that put the ‘Horns up 7-6 after Rico Ortega’s all important extra point.
Johnson County would have broken the game open in the third quarter had it not been for a pair of long touchdowns called back.  
A 68-yard punt return by Dakota Wright was wiped off due to a penalty. Later he had a 100-yard interception nullified due to a questionable pass interference call.
But the Horns kept battling and their perseverance finally paid off.
Wright finally found paydirt on a nifty 29-yard touchdown run with 7:03 remaining in the game. But a lightning strike caused the game to be delayed nearly 45 minutes before Ortega could kick the extra point to make it 14-6.
“We stuck with the game plan which was running the football,” said Wright. “We didn’t have much success with it early but we wore them down and started getting some big runs.”
Still the Horns had to hang on for dear life after being flagged for two more pass interference calls on Central’s final drive of the game.
Johnson County was flagged twice on one play that cost them 30 yards. But the defense remained stingy.
It was the senior tandem of Fenner and Samuel Icenhour that iced the game for Johnson County.
Fenner’s jarring tackle of Robinette on fourth and five at the 6-yard line stopped the Cougars one yard short of a first down and a potential tying TD.
“I thought we read our keys well but penalties killed us,” said Fenner. “That’s why our defense bent so much. Overall we did well but we’ve got to eliminate our mistakes. We had several chances to put them away but penalties allowed helped them stay in the game.”
Icenhour’s 31-yard run on third and 11 from the 5 allowed them to run out the clock after picking up a first down.
“They were crowding the inside because they thought we were going to run it up the middle,” said Icenhour.
“They were going to blitz so we called a sweep. I got the edge and was able to get by my guy. This was a big win and something we can build the rest of our season off of.”
Fenner continued his stellar defensive play with 17 tackles. He returned after missing the Elizabethton game with a leg injury.
Samuel Icenhour ended the night with 115 yards on 11 carries with an interception. Wright added 75 yards on eight carries in addition to his two interceptions.
Nathan Arnold completed 4-8 passes for 42 yards. The sophomore ran the offensive well with only one turnover.
Central was held to a net five yards rushing in the first half by Johnson County’s defense.

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