Knights 31, Angoras 21
Difference maker: Jesse Griggs’ 114 yards on 34 carries helped the Knights keep drives alive and chew up much of the clock.
Stat that matters: Despite being outgained by Clarkston 253-221, Johnson won the turnover battle, recovering three fumbles (two for touchdowns) and grabbing an interception. Johnson only turned it over once.
Turning point: Up 24-14 with under 11 minutes left in the game, Johnson was forced to punt it to Clarkston, and a fumble on the return turned into seven points as Johnson senior Jamison Owen returned the loose ball 5 yards for the score. The score gave Johnson a three-possession lead.
Who’s next: Johnson is at Druid Hills. Clarkston is home against Glascock County.
Last Friday, turnovers put the Johnson Knights in a huge hole that they couldn’t overcome against Chestatee.
One week later, it was the Knights’ defense that created chaos and led the team to a 31-21 victory over the Clarkston Angoras Friday night at Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium.
The Knights’ (2-5) defense forced four turnovers, including two fumble returns for touchdowns and one interception against the Angoras’ (1-5-1) offense.
“We’ve watched so much film, and it becomes nauseating at times,” Johnson head coach Jason Roquemore said. “It’s not an effort thing. It’s about getting your head in the right place, or blocking down when you’re supposed to block down, or bouncing up in space when you’re supposed to tackle.
“We did a better job of those things tonight. That helped with our execution. That helped with our momentum. I think our kids played hard. It’s a great night to be a Knight, and I’m just happy for our kids.”
Johnson junior running back led the Knights’ offense, rushing for 114 yards on 34 carries. Senior Luis Hernandez added 35 yards on seven carries. He also caught the Knights’ only catches, snagging two receptions for 30 yards and a touchdown.
The Angoras’ offense was led by quarterback Jordan Douglass, who went 23-for-34 passing for 207 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Wide receiver Laquon Odom hauled in eight of Douglass’ passes for 109 yards and one touchdown.
“We had some tough breaks in reference to the turnovers that really put us in a bad situation,” Clarkston head coach Gary Wansley said. “Give it up to Johnson, they played hard. They played real hard. They fought hard. They have a pretty solid offense in what they do. That’s two things that kind of hurt us and put us in a bad situation.”
After holding the Angoras’ offense to a three-and-out to start the game, the Knights’ offense fumbled on its opening possession, giving the Angoras great field position.
Four plays later, Clarkston running back Joshua Webb found the end zone from 16 yards away to give the Angoras an early 7-0 lead.
On the Angoras’ next possession, a fumble was returned 10 yards by Johnson defensive back Kavin Hopkins for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 early in the second quarter.
Clarkston answered when Webb found the end zone for a second time, scoring from 3 yards out for a 14-7 lead with 6:28 until halftime.
Then it was the Knights’ offense that responded, going 73 yards in eight plays, capped by a Chase Sims 3-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 14-14 with 3:38 left in the half.
Sims also had a run of 19 yards on the drive. He finished with 33 yards rushing for the game and 30 yards passing.
“At practice, we went over how they were going to look all week long,” Sims said. “And Wednesday, we did nothing but straight physical everything. It was everything about attitude, about being physical. We had to be physical. The attitude in the stadium was huge for us. It was really big.
“I wouldn’t trade this team for any other team in the world. I love them to death. That’s it. We bleed Johnson blue together..”
On the kickoff after the tying score, Johnson recovered a Clarkston fumble at the Angoras’ 41-yard line. The Knights’ offense was able to run the clock down, and sophomore kicker Isaac Henry connected on a 24-yard field goal for a 17-14 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Sims found Hernandez on an 11-yard strike for a touchdown to push the Johnson lead to 24-14.
With less than 11 minutes left in the game and momentum turning, Clarkston fumbled and Johnson’s Jamison Owen returned the loose ball 5 yards for a touchdown to give the Knights a three-score lead.
After Douglass found Odom for a touchdown to cut the lead at 31-21, Clarkston tried to move the ball downfield again but the drive came up short.