OAKWOOD — On this night, the option was the pass. And Scott Chewning did it well. Chestatee High's senior quarterback threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns as the War Eagles rode big plays to their first victory of the season, 49-13 over Johnson at Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium.
The victory was Chestatee's sixth straight over the Knights (0-3). It also was the biggest winning margin since Johnson won 39-0 in 2003.
Chewning had an efficient night, and one that was short. He went 7-for-11 with each of his touchdown passes and all his throwing yardage coming in the first half. He also ran for 38 yards on three carries.
None of his touchdown tosses were overly long. Rather he said the key was to get the ball to his playmakers in open space and let them create yardage.
"This is what you expect when everything is clicking and everyone does their job," said Chewning, who threw for just 220 yards all of last season. "Our guys did a fantastic job of making plays. And as a quarterback, it's always nice to throw the ball."
The War Eagles (1-1) started with a five-play, 40-yard drive on their second possession that ended when Chewning hit Alex Moore on a pitch-and-catch that the senior took 9 yards down the near sideline.
After Chestatee forced a Johnson punt on the ensuing drive, Chewning hit Quan Clark on a dump pass over the middle that the sophomore took 75 yards for another touchdown. Brice Beck recovered one of Johnson's five first-half fumbles - the Knights gave away four - on the change of possession.
Following a holding penalty on Chestatee, Chewning scrambled for 24 yards and set up junior Montrai Tate's 3-yard plunge shortly before the end of the first quarter.
"We always try to play with an aggressive style defensively," Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said.
"We felt like we needed to get in there and force them to make quick decisions.
"On the other side we're running the same offense as we have in the past except with different formations. We have three talented senior receivers that are really good in space. Hopefully this can carry through the rest of the year."
Chewning and the passing game struck again midway through the second quarter with an 84-yard score that again started with Pearce Gruenenfelder, another junior, catching a short pass over the middle of the line of scrimmage. Backup quarterback Jordan Degraff added a 52-yard touchdown run on an option play up the middle with 3:29 left in the first half.
Clark had two touchdown runs in the third quarter, one of 65 yards and another of 13 yards.
"We put in a lot of hard work over the summer and it's paying off as you can see," said Clark, who finished with 189 total yards. "For a lot of us, this is the first time we've started games and this is what we need to do."
The night proved to be a frustrating one for Johnson, which lost two close games to open the season. The Knights have lost 10 fumbles in the past two weeks.
"We've had to replace nearly all our skill players, and they're good. But they just can't hold on to the ball," Johnson coach Paul Friel. "We fumbled once Monday in practice and didn't do it again the rest of the week. I didn't want to harp on it since then. But we obviously need to go back and work on that again this week. Our kids are working hard; they're just not putting it together yet."
Sophomore running back Cedric Harris scored Johnson's first touchdown on a 24-yard run in the third quarter. Luke Gilleland hit senior tight end Cody Lewallen on a 10-yard touchdown pass in the final period. Gilleland, a junior, had 180 yards of offense.