By: Tim Chambers
Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, the Middle School Longhorns saw there was no place like home inside of Paul McEwen Stadium on Thursday. Johnson County overcame a slow start to knock off Hampton 24-0 in their final middle school football game of the season.
It was a great way to end the season according to head coach Matt Bray. The Horns were in a rebuilding mode after earning two consecutive conference championships and three of the last four.
Im proud of all these kids for the way they fought, said Bray. Its not how you start but how you finish. Were getting them ready for high school. Im pleased with everyones effort.
The Longhorns had little trouble moving the football in the first half. Their lone issue was not being able to stick it in the end zone. Twice they got inside the red zone.
Jared Kimbles 19-yard punt return gave them great field position on their first drive but a sack by Hamptons Andrew Tuffy Carden would help stall that drive at the 18.
Kimble reeled off three runs for 27 yards on their next possession which enabled them to move the ball inside the five but they failed to hit pay dirt once again. The Longhorns finally broke the ice in the second quarter. Kimble got free on a sweep and took it 47 yards to the house for the score. Troy Arnolds two-point conversion pass to Zach Eller gave them an 8-0 lead at intermission.
Johnson County finally broke the game open in the fourth quarter but it was anybodys game up to that point.
Kimbles 22 yard interception return for a touchdown gave the Horns some breathing room with 4:35 remaining in the game. We all had to step up when Tyler went out, said Kimble. We called a 37 sweep and I saw an opening on the outside and got in my lane. I didnt see anything but open field. It was the same way with the interception. I had an open lane to the end zone.
Destiny Cole continued her heroics on the gridiron by hauling in one of her two conversion catches on the night for a 16-0 cushion.
Johnson County got its final touchdown with 1:43 remaining on a nifty 71 yard run by speedster Stevie Baldock. Cole closed out the scoring with another two-point conversion catch from Arnold.
Arnold threw for 72 yards and collected an interception. Kimble ended the night with 113 yards rushing in addition to his interception.
It feels good to win our last game, said Arnold. We couldnt get anything going in the first half but we came out and played much better in the second one. Our line played well and so did everyone else. Im hoping the seventh graders can build on this.
Baldock, a seventh grader added 92 yards only two carriers. Several Longhorns stepped up and made solid contributions. Zack Peake caught a 43-yard pass from Arnold. Eller had a key interception in the end zone that prevented Hampton from scoring.
The defense was solid as well. Cody Jennings, Christian Krupsky and Noah Cox collected six tackles apiece. Andrew Hardin completed five passes for 69 yards for Hampton. Matt Hughes had three catches for 54 yards in addition to a pair of fumble recoveries.
Head coach Daniel Arnett felt like the Horns just overpowered them.
Were young and experienced but we got better as the season went on, said Arnett. We played a good first half and our kids played hard. We just came up against a bigger and stronger team.
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