By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
Johnson County’s ground attack was so good that they didn’t need an air strike to knock off Happy Valley. The junior high Longhorns rushed for 253 yards that led to their 28-20 win over the Warriors at Harold Arnold Field on Tuesday.
The Longhorns scored on the first play of the game to take a 6-0 lead. Isaiah Wills ran the opening kickoff back 68 yards for a touchdown. It was a confidence booster for the young and inexperienced Longhorns.
“We had a week and a half of good practices to try and get our kids some more game experience,” said JCMS’ head coach Devin Shaw. “We were much more prepared tonight than we were at Yancey County. Nick Speed ran hard in the middle, and Isaiah Willis did a lot of good things on both sides of the football. We played with a lot of enthusiasm at times, but we have to do that the whole game. We’re playing a lot of young kids, and tonight they got tested. I was happy with the way we rebounded from getting beat soundly the last time out.”
JCMS was beaten 30-16 in their first game of the season, but they showed a vast amount of improvement versus the Warriors.
The defense was on top of their game early forcing the Warriors to punt after three plays netted no yards.
The Longhorns kept the ball for almost the entire quarter but were stopped inside the ten on a fourth and six. They led 6-0 after the first quarter.
Happy Valley used a big play early in the second quarter to erase the deficit. Journey Trivette’s 62-yard run put Happy Valley in front 8-6 after Nathan Ragusa’s two-point conversion run.
Johnson County went back to work on the ground and quickly found a way to erase the deficit.
Nick Speed scored on a 12-yard run and then added the two-point conversion for a 14-8 Johnson County lead. The burly fullback had a nice run of 36 yards that set up the score.
The Longhorns rolled the dice after the touchdown and elected to do an onside kick. Tyler Bouchelle made a nice hustle play and recovered the football that set up their third score.
Wills reeled off a 21-yard run then Speed took in two plays later from five yards out with 35 seconds remaining at halftime. He also tacked on the two-point conversion for a 22-8 advantage.
But the Warriors would rebound after intermission.
HAPPY VALLEY RALLIES TO GET BACK IN THE GAME
The Warriors got the big play it needed when Damien Nickles scored on a 51-yard touchdown run to edge them closer at 22-14. Bronson Norman’s 22-yard touchdown run pulled them within two at 22-20 with
1:04 left in the third.
Wills continued to provide the Longhorns with big-time plays. He broke free for a 61-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds remaining in the quarter to put his team up 28-20.
The defense took over from there.
The Warriors had one last drive late in the game but was stopped at the ten on a fourth and five. The Longhorns would run out the final seconds to get the victory.
Willis led the Longhorns in rushing with 125 yards on nine carries. Speed added 105 tough yards on 11 attempts. Grinnan Walker tacked on 25 yards rushing and played a good game as the team’s quarterback.
Chase Muncey collected seven tackles to lead the defense. Willis added six tackles and Speed provided five. Hank Sauer, Zennia Bouchelle and Connor Simcox helped the cause with four tackles apiece.
“We came out flat in the third quarter, and I was disappointed in that,” added Coach Shaw. “They scored quick and got the momentum, and our kids looked gassed. They got back in the game before we knew it. Our kids could have quit, but they didn’t. We had a lot of seventh-grade kids contribute to our win.”
Happy Valley 0 6 14 0 — 20
Johnson Co. 6 16 6 0 —28
JC—Willis 68 kickoff return (run failed) 7:47
HV—Trivette 62 run (Ragusa run) 6:59
JC—Speed 12 run (Speed run) 3:05
JC—Speed 5 run (Speed run) .25
HV—Nickles 51 run (run failed) 7:48
HV—Norman 22 run (run failed) 1:04
JC—Willis 61 run (run failed) .25