By Tim Chambers
Wet field conditions and a steady rain didn’t dampen the 2016 homecoming festivities on Harold Arnold Field. It did however put a damper on Johnson County’s playoff hope.
West Greene departed Mountain City happy campers for the first time in over two decades with a stunning 14-7 upset victory. It was the Longhorns’ inability to score from inside the red zone that did them in.
They dominated total yards, time of possession and number of plays but none of that mattered in the end. It was a smorgasbord of mistakes throughout the game that cost them several scoring opportunities.
“The ball seemed to bounce their way more than it did ours tonight,” said Johnson County’s head coach Don Kerley. “But we made way too many mistakes to win. Their No. 1 (Julian Lane) pretty much beat us by himself. They played well and were ready for us, and we didn’t play the way we should have. We had a lot of dropped balls in the game and made several mental mistakes. We didn’t make the plays and they did. Hats off to them for hanging in there, playing hard and not turning it over. They were the better team tonight.”
The Buffaloes’ last victory in Mountain City came during the 1994 campaign.
It was the first conference win of the season for the Buffs (1-3, 2-5) while Johnson County fell to 2-3 in league play and 3-4 overall.
West Greene’s head Coach Joe Case said the game plan was to shut down Johnson County’s two big-play guys. They carried out his plan to perfection.
“We worked all week on how to stop #12 Nathan Arnold and #22 Shane Greer from beating us,” said West Greene’s head coach Joe Case. “Both of them are great players so that was our main focus. Our second goal was to keep them out of the end zone. We figured they would get some yards, but our defense played well, considering most of them went both ways and were on the field for a long time. We’re a young football team and we’re finally starting to believe. It’s been so long since we’ve won up here. I am so happy for our fans, these kids and our coaching staff. Not one time have they ever quit or given up. This was a huge victory for us.”
Both teams moved the football during the first half but each had trouble putting points on the scoreboard.
Johnson County failed to score on a 17-play, 73-yard drive that ate up nearly the entire quarter on their second possession.
Brian McCray’s interception stopped another Longhorns’ drive which led to West Greene’s only first half score.
The Buffaloes had it fourth and goal on the eight when Case took a time out to dial up some trickery. They had marched downfield running from their Wildcat package with Lane at quarterback but opted to mix it up. Lane tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Preston Fox with 30 seconds left in the half. Niklas Giesemann added the PAT for a 7-0 Buffaloes lead.
“I felt like it was the little mistakes and penalties that cost us tonight,” said center Nate Shepherd. “We moved the ball pretty good but we should have scored several times. We were able to go up and down the field, but we had some breakdowns. We’ve got to correct the little mistakes and penalties in order to be a good football team. We still have a lot to play for. It’s all on us from here on out.”
The Buffaloes’ defense continued to play well inside the red zone during the second half.
Lane’s interception at the 15-yard line spoiled another Longhorns’ scoring opportunity to start the third but they would finally tie the game with 3.21 showing in the period.
Arnold’s 2-yard run capped off a short 40-yard drive with Jared Kimble adding the PAT to tie the game at 7-7. But the momentum swing would be short lived.
Lane caught the ensuing kickoff on a run and took it to the house for a 76-yard touchdown to put West Greene up 14-7 after Giesemann’s extra point.
“I thought we carried the momentum over from last week when we scored that first touchdown,” said Lane. “We had confidence we could win after that. I didn’t think they would kick it to me. I made sure that I caught the ball and then saw a huge opening in the middle. Our line did a great job of blocking tonight. This was s a very big win for us.”
Lane ended the game with 118 yards rushing and accounted for 202 all purpose total yards. He definitely was a key factor in the game, but so was West Greene’s defense.
Johnson County squandered an excellent opportunity to tie the game by marching 77 yards on the ensuing possession. Nevada Woodard had carried most of the load getting some sizeable yardage up the gut in addition to his 19-yard reception from Nathan Arnold and another 13-yard to Shane Greer.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.