OAKWOOD — Johnson coach Paul Friel said that Friday’s game at Billy Ellis Memorial was a chance to throw caution to the wind.
After tiptoeing around season-ending injuries to five starters, including standout middle linebacker Gilberto Espinoza, as well as injuries to a couple of reserves, the Knights (3-6, 2-2 Region 7B-AAA) decided to let it all hang out on Senior Night against East Hall.
"We felt like this one was a must win for us tonight," Friel said. "So we went pretty physical this week."
"If anyone else was going to get hurt, so be it."
The physical nature for the Knights showed. The Knights rushed for 345 yards and six touchdowns in a 42-6 victory over the Vikings.
Johnson senior quarterback Anthony Prophet set the stage with two long touchdown runs in the first half and finished with 123 rushing yards.
More importantly to Prophet than the stats was the fact he walked off the field at Billy Ellis in his final home game with a victory.
"There were a lot of guys emotional in the locker room before the game and we knew we had to come out and prove a point tonight," Prophet said. "It was all about pride."
The Knights finished with four different rushers scoring touchdowns, including scores of 5 and 3 yards by senior Seth Spivey. Mantevius Rucker (19 carries, 128 yards) and Trae Wilson each added a touchdown run for Johnson.
Johnson’s defense was equally dominant and held East Hall (0-8, 0-4) without a first down until the fourth quarter. The Vikings’ only score came on a 60-yard touchdown reception by T.D. Teasley on the game’s final play.
All night, the Knights’ defense produced key plays. In the second quarter, Johnson defensive back Cam Evans intercepted an East Hall pass. Then in the third quarter, Johnson’s Caleb Jackson recovered a fumble on the first play after East Hall took possession following a turnover.
Also in the third quarter East Hall had a third-and-5 where a Vikings runner was stopped short of first down yardage after a big hit from Johnson defensive tackle E.J. Wright. The Vikings were held to minus-7 yards rushing.
"Our defense was cranked up crazy," Prophet said. "They just came out and executed."
Meanwhile, Johnson continued to move the chains all night behind a versatile running game. The Knights had 11 running plays that went for more than 10 yards on the night and finished with almost 9 yards per carry.
Prophet’s scored the game’s first touchdown with a run on a fake handoff from the 28 with 1:42 left in the opening quarter. Rucker set up the touchdown with a run of 18 yards.
Prophet scored again on Johnson’s next drive with a run of 32 yards. Spivey had a catch of 25-yards to set up the touchdown run.
Johnson’s other long pass reception was 44 yards by Tevin Arthur in the third quarter and set up a touchdown run by Rucker from the 4.
Even on a first-and-26 early in the third quarter, Johnson found a way to convert behind long runs from Rucker, Prophet, followed by a 22-yard pass catch from Wilson. With a fresh set of downs, Prophet ran for 35 on the next play. Spivey scored on the series’ fifth play with a run from the 3.
"It was one of the best games we’ve had running this season," Prophet said. "The offensive line was blocking like crazy and wanted to get it done for the seniors.
"I really appreciate the way the offensive line played for us."
East Hall plays host to West Hall and Johnson wraps up its season at top-ranked Gainesville next Friday.