Johnson kicker Steven Flores has only played two games of football in his life, but he’s already accomplished something no Knights football player has managed to do in seven years — beat West Hall.
Flores booted a 42-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired in Friday’s Battle of Oakwood to lead the Knights to a 30-27 victory over the Spartans, snapping West Hall’s six-game winning streak in the series.
So what was Flores thinking as the ball sailed over the bar, igniting the Johnson student section?
“I’m just happy it went in,” he said. “That’s pretty much it.”
Johnson jumped out to grab the lead in the first half behind two touchdowns right before the end of the first half. Another score following a long drive that took up much of the third quarter put the Knights up 27-12 with little more than 12 minutes left to play.
And even after a couple mental errors led to a pair of West Hall scores to tie things back up, Johnson responded with 15-play drive, taking up the final 8:07 of the game and ending in Flores’ kick to seal the win.
“The biggest thing besides us winning is just how proud I am of these young men and how they competed,” Johnson coach Stan Luttrell said. “They believed from Day 1, and they executed to finish it off. Even when it was tough in the fourth quarter, they kept fighting. They kept believing. And it turned into the execution there at the end to win the game.”
Here are three takeaways from Friday’s game.
Johnson has found a Clutch QB
Things were looking bleak for the Johnson offense early in the game before Stan Luttrell’s son, Jack, the Knights starting quarterback, started to come alive.
After Johnson’s first three drives ended in a lost fumble and a pair of turnovers on downs, Jack Luttrell returned momentum to his team with a 40-yard scamper down the right sideline for the Knights first score of the game. On Johnson’s next drive, Luttrell connected on a 30-yard pass to Nolan Bullock right by the sideline, before hitting tight end Vashon Johnson for a touchdown with less than five second left to go in the half.
Luttrell was just as impressive in the second half, scoring another touchdown on the ground and gaining 20 yards with his feet on Johnson’s final drive to set up Flores’ kick.
As a whole, Luttrell accounted for 124 rushing yards on 22 attempts with two rushing touchdowns, and went 4 of 8 through the air for 39 yards and another score.
“He’s getting a little bit better every week, and hopefully he’ll continue that,” Stan Luttrell said of Jack. “I’m proud of my son.”
Talil Blackwell is a playmaker
Though West Hall has started the season out 0-2, the Spartans have found themselves a player in sophomore linebacker/running back Talil Blackwell.
Blackwell first made his presence known with a strip sack on Luttrell on Johnson’s first drive of the game. Rather than knocking the ball out of the quarterback’s hands, Blackwell simply grabbed the ball and forcefully ripped it out of Luttrell’s grasp.
Luttrell recovered another fumble on the first Johnson drive of the second half too, and even made a crucial contribution on offense. With the Spartans trailing by 15 in the third quarter, Blackwell took a handoff from 7 yards out and carried multiple Johnson defenders into the right corner of the end zone for the score. Though he was dragging at least four players for the last 5 yards of the run, Blackwell never went to the ground.
“He’s just a sophomore,” West Hall coach Krofton Montgomery said of Blackwell. “He’s going to be a really good one.”
Possession won the day
Johnson possessed the ball for 19:47 of a possible 24 minutes in the second half of Friday’s game, a number that was music to Stan Luttrell’s ears when he heard it after the game.
“Good,” he said. “That’s the game we wanted to play this week.”
Though Johnson’s triple-option attack was often not pretty to watch, there’s no denying it got the job done. After a slow start to the contest, the Knight’s put together drives of 14, 15 and 16 plays later on, churning out 5-yard gain after 5-yard gain to stay in control of the tempo.
The 15-play, 8:07 drive that Johnson used to finish off the fourth quarter was the defining moment of a game plan perfectly executed by the Knights.
“We really take pride in controlling the tempo on offense,” Luttrell said. “We can go fast. We can go slow. We have all kinds of different personnel groups. I’m just super proud of the way that our young men fought.”