By Tim Chambers
BLUFF CITY— Some missed opportunities and several missed tackles led to Johnson County’s misfortune on Thursday night at the Patriot Pasture. Sullivan East was impressive in their 34-7 thumping of Johnson County in the season opener for both teams but the above had a lot to do with it.
The Longhorns’ defense had little trouble stopping the Patriots on first and second down opportunities but third and long was nearly impossible. East converted 9-for-11 third down chances and one on a fourth down and 15. Three times it led to scores, allowing East to run off 26 unanswered points.
“They are a good team and they played really well,” said head coach Don Kerley. “We started subbing some on defense and got some guys out of position. They ran away with it there. The third down and 15 they converted hurt us on their first drive and having a few young guys in there because people were cramping up hurt us a couple more times. A lot of this stuff is fixable. We would have loved to have kept the game close and we should have. I believe they will be 9-1 when the regular season ends. We left our defense on the field too long and they wore us out. That was pretty much it.”
The Patriots’ front line set the tone by winning the battle up front in the trenches. They racked up 338 yards on the ground with senior star running back Matt Nixon collecting 163 of those.
His elusiveness and ability to break tackles led to one score in the second period and a back-breaking one in the third.
He scored on a 20-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to make it 12-0, set up by Aaron Frye’s 12-yard scramble on a fourth and 10.
“We broke down as a defensive unit,” said linebacker Jordan Edes-King. “Our corners were coming up and leaving their receivers wide open. They burnt us several times. We didn’t tackle well either. We’ve got to fix all of this before Hampton next week. We are a better football team than what we showed.”
The Patriots got on the board first on a 10-yard run by Jake Crumley in the second quarter after a scoreless first. It might have been more had it not been for a good defensive play in the first quarter that prevented a score.
East had the ball inside the 10, but Nixon was hit by Jordan Edes-King and had the ball stripped from him by Jimmy Brown. Josh Herman recovered his fumble at the 5-yard line stalling that drive, but the Longhorns were unable to capitalize on the turnover.
Johnson County used a 40-yard pass from Nathan Arnold to Shane Greer in the second quarter that moved the ball down to the 25, but they couldn’t put points in the board.
It was Nixon’s heroics in the third quarter which proved to be the dagger.
He caught a pass on East’s first scoring drive in the third quarter that set up Frye’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Tyler White on a fourth down and six. That made it 19-0 after the PAT.
His 68-yard sprint with 2:49 showing in the third quarter extended their advantage at 26-0 after Tyler Carter’s PAT.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.