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Patriots 'darken' Longhorns' home opener 21-0

By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
[email protected]

Johnson County’s home opening football game against Sullivan East will long be remembered by the large crowd of fans that were in attendance. The Patriots “rained” on the Longhorns’ parade, then “turned out the lights” in a 21-0 win on Thursday at Harold Arnold Field.
The Longhorn Nation battled through some bizarre occurrences to support their favorite team on this night.
Heavy rains fell just before the opening kickoff followed by a 42-minute power outage that stopped play after the first quarter. Mountain Electric had to shut the power down again at halftime to try and keep the lights cooled down in order to get the game in.

The Patriots’ defense did their part by shutting down Johnson County’s offense. And they did so with a relentless pass rush that prevented the Horns from getting the football into the hands of their playmakers.
“They put a lot of pressure on our quarterback, especially #74 and their inside linebackers,” said Kerley. “We’ve got to do a better job of pass blocking in order to throw it. Our kids played hard, but we’ve got to go back and work on our pass protection and run blocking. We’ll try and fix those things this week.”
It was just the opposite for the defense.
East orchestrated a nine-play, 55-yard drive on its opening possession that stalled at the ‘Horns’ 15. Johnson County’s offense failed to gain a yard on its first possession allowing the ‘Pats to get the ball back in excellent field position at their own 47.
The Pats wasted little time in finding pay dirt. Matt Nixon capped off the five-play drive with a 15-yard touchdown run at the 5:12 mark. Tyler Carter added the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
The Longhorns managed to move the football on its next drive on a pair of Nathan Arnold passes to Cody Bailie and Gage Hampton.
But Arnold’s fourth pass on the drive was picked off by Patriots’ linebacker Jake Crumley allowing them to take over at the 40.
From there the Longhorns’ defense stiffened with linebacker Payton Fenner leading the way. They forced East to punt on their next two possessions without giving up one single first down.
Fenner had four tackles on those two possessions. Nevada Woodward and Alex Tressler came in with a pair of good third down defensive plays.
“I thought we played good overall but we have several things that we need to work on, too,” said Fenner who dazzled the crowd with a game high 18 tackles. “We didn’t wrap up a couple of times and we jumped off sides a couple of times which extended plays. But they got a break on their touchdown before halftime. Their left tackle came out of his stance and jumped off sides but the refs didn’t see it. That didn’t beat us but it was a big score for them. All this is stuff we can fix and overcome. We’re all willing to do and play wherever to help this team. We’ll get everyone up and be ready to go again at Hampton.”
Fenner was referring to the one-yard touchdown plunge by Aaron Frye just before the half ended. There was movement in the line prior to the ball being snapped; yet the play stood. And so did Johnson County’s “goose egg” on the scoreboard.
Cody Bailie did his part to try and get the ‘Horns on the scoreboard. He hauled in seven catches for 70 yards despite being double and triple teamed.
“We’ve got to figure out a better blocking scheme and establish some type of run game,” said Bailie. “Nathan (Arnold) throws the ball well when he’s got time but we didn’t give him time tonight. We’ve got to come out at practice on Monday and fix these things immediately. We can do that if we work hard enough. We’ve also got to get Samuel Icenhour more touches during the game. We’ve all got to step up and do our jobs. It starts Monday at practice.”
The Patriots scored their final touchdown on a 65-yard interception return by Jamerson Roberts with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter.  Kerley took time to praise his young quarterback for a gutsy effort.
“We hadn’t been able to move the football, so Nate’s trying to make a big play for us down 14,” added Kerley. “We started five sophomores and played a few more against a very talented and well coached team with several returning players. We had some other kids who were making their first varsity start. We’ll get better as the season goes on.  I’m disappointed with the loss but I’m proud of our kids for not quitting. We’ve got to keep our heads up and be patient with this group. We’ll go back and fix some things this week.”

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