By Tim Chambers
Today’s youth can’t get enough of the fidget spinners much like Longhorn fans can’t get enough of Johnson County football. An epidemic called “winning” has become contagious and it is turning the community into a frenzy.
The middle school Longhorns blanked Unaka 32-0 Tuesday on eighth grade night in front of a sizable crowd on Harold Arnold Field. They are now 3-0 while the high school supports a 5-0 mark.
The Longhorns started out slow but picked up steam as the game progressed. Part of that was due to the running of tailback Corie Neely. The little speedster scored three touchdowns and rushed for 150 yards on 14 carries. He also scored four two-point conversions. Head coach Devin Shaw praised his body of work but also singled out some others who contributed nicely.
“We’ve been running Corie between the tackles because we’ve got so much faith in our offensive line,” said Shaw. “They’ve been playing very well and he’s been running hard in every game. He sees the field well and he knows when to bounce out and when to cut back. It’s hard for a defense to get a read on him.”
The Longhorns scored on their first play from scrimmage. Neely broke loose for a 39-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion to put them in front 8-0.
The defense got tested on Unaka’s second possession in a big way. The Rangers drove to the 12-yard line but their next three plays after that resulted in minus 16 yards. That drive stalled at the 28.
Johnson County looked sluggish on its next possession but finally worked some kinks out on their third one.
They managed to move the football down to the 15 but the next three plays totaled only four yards. That didn’t set very well with Shaw.
“We played like we were down and out of energy the whole first half,” added Shaw. “We challenged them at halftime and they responded. I think them throwing the ball a lot threw us off early, but we finally got it figured out and started making some good reads. We had three interceptions and some timely sacks. I’m pleased with the way we played in the second half.”
That’s because his team lit up the scoreboard for 24 points during the third quarter.
Preston Greer got things started by hauling in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Dalton Brown to make it 16-0 after Neely’s conversion.
Johnson County’s third touchdown was set up by their defense. Big John Stout broke through the Rangers line and blocked a punt at the 30 from his tackle position.
Neely’s 22-yard touchdown run on the very next play made it 24-0 after his two-point conversion. He touched on his team’s play in the second half.
“We had a pep rally earlier that day and we were all pumped up,” said Neely. “I think we lost that at the first of the game but found it to start the second half.”
Neely and the defense would strike again on their fourth and final score.
Greer’s second interception of the game gave JCMS possession at the 25. Neely took it in from there with 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Johnson County flooded the field with reserves in the final quarter.
The Longhorns compiled 230 yards of total offense with 215 coming on the ground.
Rice ended the game with 35 yards rushing. Sammy Walters added 30.
Rice led the defense with eight tackles and a sack. Ethan Icenhour added seven tackles and a sack. Brown, Stout and Neely had five tackles apiece in addition to Stout’s blocked punt. Nick Speed and Shawn Forrester collected three apiece.
Greer had a monster game collecting six tackles on defense in addition to his two interceptions. He also scored his first TD of the season.
“We had a lot of kids step up and play well,” added Shaw. “They’ve done everything we have asked them to do.”
The Longhorns are undefeated in league play and currently sit on top in the standings. They’ll play at Chuckey-Doak on Thursday.
Kickoff is set to take place at 6 pm.
Unaka 0 0 0 0 — 0
JCMS 8 0 24 0 — 32
JC—Neely 39 run (Neely run)
JC—Greer 15 pass from Brown (Neely run)
JC—Neely 25 run (Neely run)
JC—Neely 22 run (Neely run)