By: Tim Chambers
ERWIN Like Stella, Johnson County got its groove back and spoiled Unicoi Countys homecoming on Friday night inside of Gentry Stadium. The Longhorns played nearly flawless football en route to its 26-6 win to stay unbeaten at 3-0 in conference play.
The Maroon Express piled up 456 yards of total offense and had only one turnover in tropical rain forest conditions. That pleased head coach Don Kerley who commended his squad for their performance.
Anytime you can come to Erwin and get a win its big, said Kerley. We knew they would play hard and get after us but our kids responded. This might have been our best overall game of the year. We had people blocking and not standing around. The defense picked us up and the offense made plays. It was a well-rounded performance by our players.
The Longhorns used a trick play in the early going to swing the momentum in their favor. That led to the games first score.
Chase Phillips faked a punt on fourth down and hit Alex Trussler with a 24-yard pass down to the 40-yard line. Warren Kerleys 31-yard strike to Phillips on the very next play gave them first and goal at the nine.
Aaron Osbornes three-yard run at the 9:32 mark put Johnson County in front 7-0 after Rico Ortegas PAT.
We knew the rains were coming so we wanted to throw it early, said Kerley. Our receivers did a great job of getting open and made some good catches. The backs ran hard and held on to the football. That was huge in these conditions.
The Blue Devils used a 58-yard run by Luke Fronckoski on their first play from scrimmage to set up its lone touchdown. His two-yard plunge a couple of plays later left them trailing 7-6 after the missed extra point.
It was all Johnson County from that point.
The Horns stalled on their second possession but used a pair of mammoth plays on their third drive to score again.
Dakota Grubbs 17-yard run moved the ball past midfield to the 35. Kerleys 31-yard pass to Greg Roark gave them first-and-goal at the three.
Peters found the end zone from a yard out which extended their lead at 13-6. And it would stay that way until early in the fourth quarter.
The Longhorns had a nice drive going in the third stanza but fumbled while inside the red zone. Dylan Lewis recovered it at the 22 allowing the boys from Erwin to remain in the hunt.
The Blue Devils moved the ball past midfield but were stopped on a third and eight. A 47-yard punt left Johnson County pinned inside its own one-yard line.
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