CENTERBURG — Sometimes it was the Johnnies and sometimes it was themselves, but every time the Centerburg Trojans looked poised to break out Friday night, things went awry.
Johnstown racked up 427 yards on the ground and Centerburg had two close calls near the end zone as the Johnnies rolled to a 48-19 Mid-Buckeye Conference victory Friday at Centerburg.
The Johnnies followed the lead of senior running back Brad Couts in rolling out to a quick 14-0 lead. Couts, who finished the night with 196 yards rushing, carried the load early, scoring on a 2-yard run and setting up another score as Johnstown (2-2 overall, 1-0 MBC) took control.
“I know Johnstown football. They come right out and go after you. They did not run one play that we did not know. They just executed very well,” said Centerburg coach Ken Kish. “Their runs come from the same formation every time. We knew what they were going to do, we just couldn’t stop it.”
A Centerburg fumble helped set up the second Johnnie score and then the Trojans (0-4, 0-1) coughed it up again early in the second quarter as they were closing in on a touchdown.
The Trojans were able to put one on the board late in the first half when quarterback Luke Donaldson snuck in from one yard out. But, that didn’t last long as two big runs, including a 49-yard touchdown jaunt from Nick Schuler, helped the Johnnies push the lead back to 14.
Centerburg’s offense kept rolling, though, driving deep in Johnstown territory as time was winding down in the half. The Trojans completed a pass on the final play of the half, but receiver T.T. Thompson was ruled down at the one-foot line as time expired.
“I thought at the end of the half, maybe the call went against us, maybe it did not. I told the kids at halftime that it didn’t matter what they thought of that, we can’t turn the ball over at the 2-yard line and expect to win,” Kish said.
Both offenses continued to put up big numbers in the second half. Johnstown opened the half with a 24-yard run by Riley Cannon, but Centerburg struck just four plays later when Drew Osborne connected with Logan McGovern on a 35-yard touchdown strike. McGovern made a nice move after catching the ball and outraced the Johnnies to the end zone.
Johnstown answered with a 1-yard run by Couts, then added another score on a 3-yard run by Frank Chambers. The Johnnies’ final TD came when Chambers returned an interception 25 yards for the score.
Osborne had a highlight reel play for the Trojans’ final score as he bobbled the snap, then, as he was being pulled down, found Thompson open in the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown pass.
“I thought of our offense, we made a commitment to it in the offseason, I was pretty happy with it,” Kish said. “We have the league’s leading receiver (Thompson) and he didn’t disappoint. I think we’ll win some games if both our quarterbacks continue to hit over 60 percent of their passes.
“We just made a couple of bad plays at the end of the game. We looked right at their linebacker, thought he was open and hit him in the chest with the pass.”
Thompson finished the night with 140 yards receiving on 12 catches to lead the Trojans. McGovern caught just two passes, but they went for 56 yards. Donaldson connected on 13-of-18 passes for 83 yards, while Osborne hit on 11-of-17 passes for 145 yards and the two touchdowns.
“We’ve got some good kids who work hard. We’re not too far from breaking out,” Kish said.
Couts’ 196 yards led a Johnstown rushing attack that rolled up 427 total yards on the ground. Schuler added 72 and Cannon 66.
The Trojans will travel to East Knox next week for an MBC matchup with the Bulldogs.
“We have to keep working hard and get ready to play East Knox,” Kish said. “I thought the game last year, we felt good about it going in, but we did not play well. We look forward to playing better this year. I think it will be a good, good football game.”