OAKWOOD -- The bumps and bruises won't hurt quite as bad this weekend in Oakwood.
Johnson High's football team is probably still celebrating after beating Pickens 33-14 on Friday night at Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium for the Knights' first victory of the season.
Junior quarterback Anthony Prophet ran for three first-half touchdowns and threw for another as Johnson ougained the Dragons (0-3) 333-221.
This despite just 31 players dressing for Johnson (1-3) after losing eight starting players since the beginning of the season, among others. Johnson coach Paul Friel lost count as to how many Knights played on both sides of the ball.
"It was darn near close to all of the starters," a beaming Friel said. "We lost three more starters last week but this shows how good our kids are and what kind of character they have. They kept rotating themselves out to stay fresh and not worrying about how long they were on the field. We needed this for them and our coaches."
Friel was hoping his defense could find redemption after allowing 56 points to Chestatee a week ago. But he never imagined the type of display Johnson showed in the first half.
All of Prophet's touchdowns came in the first half, including an electrifying 32-yard run as time ran out.
His 14-yard throw to fellow junior Chris Cannon for the Knights' first score came on Johnson's first possession.
"We just needed this," said Cannon, who also was one of many standouts on defense with four tackles for a loss, including a critical fourth-down stop in the fourth quarter. "We were really working hard on the small stuff this week and it paid off. We came into this game knowing exactly what they would do and what plays they would run. It was great."
And it got better early. Freshman lineman Adrian Madera recovered a fumbled snap on a Pickens punt attempt on the Dragons' 40-yard line. Nine plays later, Prophet went in from 5 yards out.
How's that for early momentum?
"Our lineman were so good tonight. That really made it a lot easier for us," said Prophet, who ended with 124 yards rushing and 31 yards passing. "They give 100 percent in practice and go all day. Everyone was ready for this and everyone was fired up. We knew we needed to get this win against a team we knew could beat."
And on this night, it was hard to tell which took more of a toll on the Dragons: a Johnson offense that racked up 265 yards in the first half (234 on the ground) or a defense that forced a fumble, had four tackles for a loss and held Pickens to just 34 yards in the first two quarters.
Prophet added a 1-yard run midway through the second period and ended the half with the 32-yard scramble for a touchdown as time ran out. Just like the coaches drew it up, right?
"That was all our line," Prophet said. "They gave me really good pass protection, and they did a good job of holding their blocks when they saw me started to scramble. I made one guy miss and saw I could probably get in."
Pickens tried to make it interesting with 14 points and 187 yards in the second half. Alex Willingham scored two touchdowns, but senior Mick Shannon sealed the win for Johnson with a 3-yard run for the Knights with five minutes left in the game.
"Our seniors showed really great leadership," Cannon said. "(The fatigue factor) really didn't bother me at all. We're in much better shape than at any point this year."
That's a good thing with Johnson heading to Flowery Branch (3-1) next week in the teams' first subregion game of the year. The Falcons improved to 3-1 with a 24-7 win over Chestatee on Friday.
"We knew we had to put up a big win tonight with Flowery Branch coming up," Prophet said. "We know their a good team and this will make us work even harder this week."
NOTES: Johnson rushed for all 13 of its first downs. ... The Knights weren't penalized and punted just once. ... In its last two games, Johnson has scored 50 first-half points. ... Seven of Pickens' 32 rushes were for negative yards. Johnson allowed just three runs for more than 10 yards.