Purple Hurricanes 21, Knights 0
Difference maker: Cedric Harris' 119 rushing yards kept Johnson in the game.
Stat that matters: Monroe Area defense held the Johnson to 143 total yards.
Turning point: A fumbled fake-punt with 8:13 left in the game gave Monroe Area an extra possession to take some time off the clock.
Who's next: Johnson hosts Chestatee. Monroe Area will play North Hall at Monroe Area.
On a rainy Friday night at Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, running and turnovers turned out to be the keys of the game as Monroe Area defeated Johnson 21-0.
Johnson (0-9,0-5 Region 8-AAA South) was led by running back Cedric Harris, who rushed for a game high 119 yards on 29 carries. For Monroe Area, it was the second straight shutout victory.
Johnson committed three turnovers, two fumbles and an interception. Monroe Area had two fumbles.
"When we weren't scoring, we were moving the ball OK, and then got stopped", Johnson coach Paul Friel said. "We had to take some shots and take some risks, which they have some great athletes over there. We turned the ball over a couple of times, especially when Harris went out for a series or two.
"We had to lean on the passing game a little bit, and the kid made a nice play, picked it off," Friel said.
Harris injured his shoulder midway through the third quarter, but did return after getting it wrapped. He will be fine for next week, according to Friel.
Johnson's opening drive lasted 9:04, but ended when Monroe Area defensive lineman Travis Butts recovered a Johnson fumble. The fumble was the first of four for the Knights in the first half, but it was the only one they lost.
After driving down to the Johnson 4-yard line, Monroe Area fumbled the ball out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback for Johnson.
"Coach Friel had a great game plan. He used all the 25-second clock when they had the ball," Monroe Area coach Matt Fligg said. "We had 17 plays the first half. We drove it down and fumbled it in the end zone on our first drive. Then we had three plays in the second quarter and that was it."
The biggest play of the first half came with 9:17 left in the second quarter, when Monroe Area quarterback Floyd McCoy busted a 30-yard run.
The first score of the game didn't come until 9:54 left in the third quarter. Monroe Area (6-2, 4-1 Region 8-AAA South) running back Stanton Truitt punched in a 16-yard run to give the Hurricanes a 7-0 lead.
"We had a little chat at halftime. You couldn't get mad at the offense, because we didn't have the ball. I told them we had to score first drive," Fligg said.
The Hurricanes scored again with 5:35 left in the third quarter on a McCoy 1-yard run. Then the defense ended Johnson's next drive with an interception by safety Junior Reed.
After forcing a turnover on downs, the Johnson offense picked up a fourth-and-1 with 11:04 left in the game. With 8:13 left, the Knights attempted a fake punt that led to fumble Reed recovered. One minute later, Johnson recovered the second Monroe Area fumble, but couldn't convert it into any points.
Darius Blackwell scored the Hurricanes' final touchdown with 1:53 left in the game.
"This is a young team, and nobody ever thought we'd be 7-2 right now. Proud of the kids, and we have a big one next week against North Hall," Fligg said.
Johnson host Chestatee next week, while Monroe Area host North Hall.