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Patriots pummel Longhorns in season opener

Dalton Brown (13) scored JC’s only touchdown, and led the team in rushing with 69 yards. Photo by Joey Icenhour

By Tim Chambers 
Sports Editor

BLUFF CITY — the layoff from COVID-19 was evident in Johnson County’s season opener at Sullivan East on Friday. The Longhorns appeared winded in the second half and was handed a 20-6 loss at the hands of the Patriots, which matches the total number of wins they had last season.

East was coming off a 1-9 record from a year ago and was under the direction of a new head coach J. C. Simmons. The Patriots racked up 337 yards in total offense to Johnson County’s 170, and it was evident by the final score of their dominance, especially in the first half. 

Simmons said, “it was one heck of a win for his squad, and they were going to enjoy it.”

Johnson County’s inability to convert a few key fourth down plays inside the red zone would lead to their defeat. The Patriots used a pair of touchdown passes from their senior quarterback Ethan Bradford to Hunter Brown and several key completions on third down to tight end Clayton Iverster to win going away. 

Freshman Dominic Cross scored on a three-yard run with nine minutes left in the first half and ended the game with 105 yards rushing. The Patriots set the tone for the game by scoring on their first drive. They marched 79 yards in 16 plays to take an early 7-0 lead with 5:43 remaining in the first quarter.

Bradford hit Brown with an 11-yard scoring strike to get the Pats on the board and the fans in the game. He ended the night completing 22-of-33 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns. Simmons said it was the first time Bradford had played football since middle school. 

 “You’re talking about a guy who hasn’t played since middle school,” Simmons said. “He had some miscues (two interceptions), but he battled the whole way and kept us up. He’s a leader, I’ll tell you that much.”

Perhaps his biggest completion was a 36-yard pass to Smith to the three, yard line, with 14 seconds remaining in the half that set up their final score. I came on third down and 19 when the Horns appeared headed into halftime only trailing by one point but instead found themselves down by 14-6. East’s final score came with 2:58 remaining on a 10-yard pass from Bradford to Brown. 

Unlike East, Johnson County had no success in the air. Starting quarterback, Dalton Brown ran for 69 yards on 15 carries and scored the Horns only TD on a three-yard run  He completed only 1-of-4 passes that being a 36 yarder to Ryan Morefield.  

“Hats off to East, they played well,” Johnson County coach Don Kerley said. “We missed a couple of weeks of conditioning, which hurt us a little, but that was a good win for them over there.”

Brown collected 64 receiving yards, Smith and Iverster 46 apiece. The Longhorns played six freshmen in the contest. Javier Buenfil with eight tackles. Stacy Greer added seven, and Joseph Gambill contributed five.

Sullivan East 7 7 0 6 – 20
Johnson Co. 0 6 0 0 – 6