By Tim Chambers
It’s been an unpleasant season for Johnson County football fans after back-to-back conference championships and a 20-3 record over the past two years. On Friday, it got even worse.
Unicoi County came to town and left with an impressive 34-0 victory over the Longhorns on a senior night before a small crowd inside of Paul McEwen Stadium.
The loss means that Johnson County will not host a first-round playoff game and must travel to Knoxville to play state-ranked Austin-East.
The Longhorns have been outscored 80-0 over the past two games, and it could be even worse when they meet the high powered Roadrunner’s offense.
Johnson County’s defense kept the game close by allowing only six points in the first half. The Blue Devils lone touchdown came on an 11-yard run by Kody Lewis with 6:11 remaining in the first quarter.
But the Longhorn’s offense was anemic the entire night and never could dent the scoreboard.
“Give Unicoi County credit because they have an excellent running back and a pretty good quarterback,” said Johnson County’s head coach Don Kerley. “I thought we played well defensively in the first half, but we made too many mistakes overall to win the football game. I thought our kids played hard, but we don’t have the big-play guys like we’ve had the past two years that can make plays for us. The Lewis kid for them is for real, and you have to tip your hat to him. He made a lot of big plays on offense, and that was the difference in the game.”
Lewis saves his
best for last.
The Blue Devils’ senior running back has battled some injuries earlier this year but was on top of his game for the regular-season finale.
He opened the third quarter with a 37-yard touchdown run to make it 13-0 then added a 6-yard touchdown run after Johnson County coughed up a fumble that pushed their third-quarter lead at 20-0.
The Longhorns put the game away with 25 seconds remaining in the quarter after Evan Huff scored on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Brock Thompson.
Their final touchdown came on a 19-yard run by Diego Diaz. Miguel Vasquez booted his fourth extra points of the game to account for Unicoi’s final points.
Shut out for a
I overheard one Longhorns’ fan say that they needed some new plays, and maybe they could be as good as last year. Sorry friend, but it’s not that simple.
Johnson County couldn’t win the battle upfront in the trenches that resulted in them being unable to run the football. They overthrew wide-open receivers, and several times the running backs couldn’t get outside because the Blue Devils’ defensive backs were beating them to the edges. And Lewis is a difference-maker as he went over 4,000 yards for his career in the Blue Devils’ win. He ended the night with 190 yards rushing on 24 carries. Diaz added 80 yards on nine rushing attempts.
Stacy Greer rushed for 62 yards to lead the Longhorns. Sam Mann added 52 yards on nine carries, but 28 of those came on the final drive of the game.
Lucas Phillips had three catches for 19 yards, and Stephen Bunn had a 19-yard reception. Greer also had a nine-yard catch.
Joseph Gambill led the defense with 13 tackles, while Colt Moody added nine stops. Danny Medley and Logan Gilley provided six each.
Corie Neely had the game’s only interception.
The Blue Devils racked up 358 yards of total offense with 271 coming on the ground. Brock Thompson completed 5-of-10 passes for 87yards and a TD.
Unicoi County (5-5) will host No. 8 ranked Gatlinburg-Pittman on Friday inside of Gentry Stadium in downtown Erwin. G-P defeated Hampton 46-6 during the regular season, the same Bulldogs team that knocked off the Blue Devils 32-13.
Johnson County (4-6)
will play at Austin-East
(7-3). Game time for all playoff contests begins at 7:00 p.m.
Unicoi Co. 6 0 21 7 –34
Johnson Co. 0 0 0 0 –0