October 3, 2018
By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
TAZWELL—Claiborne County ran more plays (59-46) and dominated time of possession against Johnson County, but the Longhorns won the battle on the scoreboard where it mattered. The No. 7 ranked Horns in Class 3A made the most of their opportunities and cruised to a 33-6 road win on Friday. The conference win clinched a playoff spot for Johnson County and all but assured them a first-round game at home if they can knock off win-less North Greene in two weeks on Harold Arnold Field. Johnson County led 12-0 after the first quarter despite only have the ball for one offensive play. Head coach Don Kerley complimented the defense for coming up with ways to keep the Bulldogs out of the end zone.
“It was a long bus ride down here for the kids, but they played hard the entire game,” said Kerley. “I was very proud of the defense for the way they kept Claiborne from scoring for nearly three quarters. We did a lot of good things, and our offensive line played well on the long drive that we put the game away. It’s always good to get a win, especially when you travel this far. We have a lot of things to improve on, but this was one we had to have.”
Kerley was referring to his squad being in the catbird seat to host another first-round playoff game. It was the bizarre fashion they did it in that left fans shaking their heads.
DEFENSE STEPS UP WITH BIG PLAYS
The Longhorns caught a break in the early going after holding the Bulldogs on their first possession and forcing them to punt deep in their own territory. A bad snap gave the Longhorns the ball at the Bulldogs’ six. Nathan Lane scored on their first offensive play to put the Horns up 6-0. Claiborne got the ball back and marched downfield 76 yards that took nearly 10 minutes off the clock but were stopped once again at the 5-yard line. They elected to attempt a field goal, but Troy Arnold blocked the kick. Weston Throop scooped up the loose football and outran everyone for a 75-yard touchdown on the final play of the quarter.The senior outside linebacker touched on the play.
“Troy made a great play blocking the kick, and then he hit the kicker that was trying to retrieve it,” said Throop. “I just picked it up and took off up the field. I felt like I would score once I got out in front. It’s was a huge momentum changer.”
The Bulldogs never recovered from it although they did put up a good fight. The Longhorns had the ball inside the red zone twice in the second quarter but shot itself in the foot by throwing a pair of interceptions. They didn’t need an air attack in the third quarter.
LONGHORNS CASH IN ON BIG PLAYS
Zack Eller got them started by returning the opening kickoff 44 yards to the 45. Arnold kept the drive alive with a 13-yard completion to Nathan Lane who later scored a touchdown from the one that extended their lead at 18-0. Claiborne would score their only touchdown at the 6:26 mark on an 11 yard run by Eli Stone but the Horns would have an answer. Lane found a seam up the middle and sprinted 55 yards for his second touchdown. Jared Kimble’s PAT made it 26-6 in favor of the Longhorns. The Longhorns would put the game away with one of their best drives of the season.
“I got through the line and into their secondary, and there was only one man to beat,” said Lane. “We had some success running in the middle. Our line and defense played excellent tonight.”
The offensive line consisting of Logan Gilley, John Stout, Ricky Fenner, Lucas Walters, and Christian Krumsky lived up to its billing on Johnson County’s next offensive possession. They mounted a 12-play, 95-yard drive that all came on the ground. Stacy Greer and Kimble did most of the damage by breaking free on sizeable runs. Kimble had one of 10 yards to keep the drive alive on a third and eight while Greer and Arnold added runs of 13 and 11 yards respectively. Kimble capped off the mammoth drive with a seven-yard touchdown run then booted the extra point. He also gave credit to the offensive line.
“Those guys up front blocked their tails off,” said Kimble. “We wore them down and had some big holes on that drive to run through. This was a huge win for us because we’ll now host a first-round playoff game, but we can’t be overlooking anyone.”
The Longhorns ended the night with 300 yards of total offense with 255 coming on the ground. Lane led the way with 135 yards on 14 carries. Kimble and Arnold added 40 and 35 yards respectively. Sophomore Stacy Greer enjoyed his best game of the season. He carried the ball eight times for 50 yards and scored a two-point conversion. He also caught three passes for 38 yards and logged five tackles.
“I give all the credit to my offensive line because that’s where it starts,” said Greer. “I thought our whole team played well because there was a lot on the line. We wanted to be at home for the first round of the playoff, so we had to win this one. We still got a lot to play for. We want to finish first and win the league.”
Tyler Norris once again led the defense with 12 tackles. He said the goal was to keep them off the scoreboard.
“We kept trying to hold them off because we wanted our defense to help win this football game,” said Norris. “They kept getting some yards on the dive, but we kept them out of the end zone. That’s all that matters to us. We hung in there and did what we had to do.”
Throop and Lane added eight tackles apiece. Tyrone McFadden and freshman Nate Rice logged five each. Bryce Laws rushed 18 times for 85 yards for the Bulldogs. Hayden Hollin caught seven passes for 71 yards. Johnson County will be at home on Friday to take on Happy Valley. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm.
Johnson Co. 12 0 13 8 -33
Claiborne 0 0 6 0 – 6
JC—Lane 5 run (run failed) 9:47
JC—Throp 75 blocked punt return (run failed) 0:00
JC—Lane 1 run (run failed) 6:26
JC—Lane 55 run (Kimble kick) 3;29
CC—Stone 11 run (run failed) 0.56
JC— Kimble 7 run (Greer run) 2:02
1st Downs 14 15
Rushing yards 33-255 37-155
Passes A/C/I 4-13-3 8-22-0
Passing Yards 45 80
Total Offense 300 235
Fumbles 0-0 3-1
Punts 0-0 4-20
Penalties 9-65 12-85
(Johnson Co. Only)
Rushing: JC— Lane 14-135, Arnold 4-35, Kimble 6-35, Greer 8-50, Webster 1-0. Claiborne—Laws 14-85, Livesay 8-40, Stone 11-35, Goins 4- (minus 5)
Passing: JC—Arnold 4-12-2 45 Kimble 0-1-1 0. CC—Stone 8-19-0, Goins 0-3-0 0.
Receiving: JC—Greer 3-38, Kimble 1-7. CC—Hollin 7-71, Ervin 1-9
Fumble Recoveries: None
Tackles (4 or more): Johnson County only—Norris 12, Throop 8, Lane 8,
McFadden 5, Rice 5, Eller 4 Greer 5, Kimble 4, Moody 3, Blevins 3. CC—Livesay 10, Helderman 10, Callebs 9.