Indians 14, Knights 3
Difference maker: Bradley Womack totaled 141 rushing yards for Lumpkin County, including a 79-yard scoring run late in the first quarter.
Stat that matters: 6 trips into Lumpkin County territory, 3 points. The Johnson offense had 10 plays of at least 10 yards and moved the ball well, but the Indians’ defense had a penchant for clamping down when Johnson got closer to scoring.
Turning point: Womack’s 79-yard touchdown was the decisive blow, ending some of the Knights’ early momentum and putting Lumpkin County ahead for good.
Who’s next: Lumpkin County (1-2) plays at Our Lady of Mercy with Johnson (0-4) welcoming Pickens next Friday.
DAHLONEGA — In a battle of teams going for their first victory, Lumpkin County scored a 14-3 nonregion win over Johnson at The Burial Grounds on Friday night.
Bradley Womack had 141 yards rushing, including a 79-yard touchdown for the game’s initial score in the first quarter, to power the Indians (1-2) past the Knights (0-4).
“Our kids really stepped up, and it was a 'next-guy-up' attitude,” Lumpkin County coach Ty Maxwell said. “We had several young guys step up and rise to the occasion. It wasn’t very pretty. We made a ton of mistakes, a lot of penalties, turned the ball over on offense. Defense played lights-out.”
Johnson had six drives into Lumpkin County territory but usually couldn’t finish with scores.
“Any time you play the option, it’s usually going to be a bend-but-don’t-break situation,” Maxwell said. “And (our defense) definitely did a great job of finishing, not letting them finish drives.”
The Indians, meanwhile, didn’t let a stalled first drive keep them from eventually going ahead.
Johnson made a defensive stand on fourth-and-two at its 28-yard line, allowing only a yard, on the game’s opening drive.
The Knights even recorded first downs on their first two offensive plays before having to punt.
Two plays after the punt, Womack broke free for his 79-yard scoring burst.
Lumpkin County’s Cal Thrilkill cut short one of Johnson’s drives into Indian territory with a second-quarter interception.
The Indians’ Zach Matthews rushed for 94 yards on 10 carries while filling in at quarterback for Gunner Wood, who was suspended after last week’s ejection against Union County. Matthews’ 52-yard run set up his 1-yard touchdown run two plays later with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter to push it to 14-0 in the home team’s favor.
“The record is what it is. I know we’re 0-4, and people outside us may frown upon that and draw their own conclusions,” Johnson coach Jason Roquemore said. “But I’m telling you this: We’ve got 60 guys that fight for one another. We’ve got a great coaching staff that fights for each other. We’ve just come up short on the scoreboard, but there’s nothing wrong with our effort.”
Johnson quickly responded with runs of eight and 37 yards by Kavin Hopkins for a first-and-goal at the 10. But a pair of penalties made it first-and-goal at the 25 to eventually stall the drive. The Knights settled for a 37-yard Isaac Henry field goal, their only points of the night, with 2:34 left in the third quarter.
Johnson made two trips across midfield in the final quarter, with one ended by a fumble and another derailed by a sack on third down.
“That’s been the story all year,” Roquemore said. “We’re missing that guy that can take it 60 or take it 80. And we have to grind. And when you have to grind, you have to be consistent, both offensively and defensively.”
Cole White added 59 yards on 17 carries and also had a fumble recovery for Lumpkin County.
Hunter Johnson rushed for 58 yards for Johnson, with Hopkins adding 53 yards on the ground. Orion Pittman pulled in five receptions for 47 yards for the Knights.
Donyae Brown recovered a fourth-quarter fumble for Johnson.
Lumpkin County visits Our Lady of Mercy while Johnson hosts Pickens next Friday.
“They’ve kept the faith and they’ve kept struggling and they’ve kept grinding,” Maxwell said.