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Mistakes costly for Knights in 29-14 loss to Walnut Grove

POSTED: October 14, 2011 11:22 p.m.

Johnson came into Friday night looking for its first win of the season, but two early fumbles and an onside kick put the Knights in a hole that they couldn't overcome.

Walnut Grove defeated the Knights 29-14 on Friday night at Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium.

The Knights were without running back A.J. Millwood, who was injured, and running back Cedric Harris was limited with a wrist injury.

"Our two running backs got hurt last week. Cedric played courageously with a cast on," Johnson head coach Paul Friel said. "Jose (Martinez) played well at fullback."

Martinez lead the Knights with 87 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

The Warriors were led by quarterback Jonah Guinn, who rushed for 67 yards and ran for three touchdowns. He also had a passing touchdown.

The Warriors' defense helped their offense by forcing two fumbles. The first recovery came with 8:47 left in the first quarter, when Johnson attempted a fake punt on fourth and three. Walnut Grove defensive back Carlyle Carter came up with the recovery.

The second fumble recovery came with 6:21 left in the first quarter. The recovery was made by Walnut Grove linebacker Drew Merritt.

"Right off the bat, we fumbled the ball the first times we get it," Friel said.

Guinn capitalized on both fumbles, scoring touchdowns off each. His first came on a 38-yard dash to the end zone with 6:59 left in the first quarter. His second touchdown came two seconds into the second quarter on a 1-yard run.

Guinn's third touchdown run of the game came after an onside kick by the Warriors after their second touchdown, and Merritt was there to recover the ball for the Warriors, his second recovery of the game.

"We give up an onside kick that put us behind, and then it was catch up the whole time," Friel said.

Johnson scored once in the first half. Harris lead the Knights on their scoring drive with 61 yards on the drive and four first-down runs. Then Martinez finished the drive with a 5-yard score with 5:00 left in the second quarter.

Martinez lifted the Knights' defense with an 11-yard sack that stalled Walnut Grove's final drive of the second half. Walnut Grove led 21-7 at halftime.

Johnson started the third quarter with a bang. On the second play from scrimmage, quarterback Justin Thompson scrambled for a 25-yard gain. Martinez then scored his second touchdown of the game on a 19-yard run.

Walnut Grove responded. Johnson gave up a personal foul penalty on a fake field goal attempt that had failed. Two plays later, Guinn connected with running back Ty Bennett for 19-yard touchdown catch. They went for two points and converted. The lead was 29-14.

After forcing a Johnson punt, Walnut Grove committed their first turnover of the game on a fumble. The fumble was recovered Martinez with 4:43 left in the game.

Two plays later, Walnut Grove line backer Treyvon Burton intercepted a Thompson pass and put the game away for Walnut Grove.

"We felt like, in my mind we needed to go out and execute early," Walnut Grove head coach O.J. Soto said. "We have high expectations for the kids. Once we got up 14-0, I flipped over the headphones and all the coaches said make the call, and we jumped on that outside kick call. To me, that was a catalyst for the rest of the night."

Johnson travels to Oconee County next week. Walnut Grove will play Gainesville at home.

"We gotta come back next week and prepare for Oconee County," Johnson fullback Jose Martinez said.



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