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HILLSVILLE –– Carroll County has become the latest in a long list of Richlands opponents to have left the field with a serious case of Johnson envy.
Marshall-bound runningback Devon Johnson ran for 189 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone, leading the Blue Tornado to a 48-23 win over the Cavaliers in a Southwest District game at Tommy Thompson Field.
Though Carroll (1-6 overall, 1-1 district) surrendered 27 first-quarter points, the effort and the outcome were a far cry from a year ago, when the Cavaliers went belly-up in a school-record 63-0 loss to the Blue Tornado.
“I thought our kids played as hard as they could play against a very, very good football team,” Carroll County coach Tom Hale said.
But there was just no stopping Johnson, a 6-3, 230-pound Marshall-bound runningback, who rumbled 82 yards for a touchdown on his first carry of the night.
“He’s the real deal, and we knew that,” said Hale. “He’s a good back. I’m just tickled that our kids played so hard and didn’t give up. It says a lot about our kids and our coaches.”
Going three-and-out and trailing 6-0 less than two minutes into the game, the Cavaliers lost a fumble two plays into their second series at their own 19-yard line. Johnson carried 12 yards to the 3 and fullback Colton Staten scored from the 1 two plays later.
“It was just one of those things,” said Hale. “They got up on us 19-0 real quick but we finally got it together offensively, had some big plays here and there and had some kids step it up. We got 16 points on the board in the first half, but we just couldn’t tackle the Johnson kid. Not too many people have. He’s a heck of a runningback.”
While Johnson flirted with 200 yards before the half, Richlands quarterback Reece Strong was the picture of precision, completing his first nine pass attempts, including a 43-yard catch and run for a score on a deep curl by D.J. Flack. Strong, also the Tornado placekicker, pushed his PAT attempt wide right for the second time in three attempts but Richlands (8-0, 2-0) still led 19-0 with 2:57 remaining in the first period.
But unlike a year ago, when Carroll trailed 14-0 after one quarter and gave up 28 second-period points, the Cavaliers held their own most of the rest of the night, starting with a six-play scoring drive. Brooks Hash ripped off a 43-yard gain to the Tornado 33, and following a sack for a three-yard loss, Chris Smoot made a nice catch in double coverage on a halfback pass from Josh Underwood, good for a 33-yard pickup to the 3-yard line.
Jacob Mollett powered his way into the end zone on the next play, and Underwood sprinted in for the two-point conversion and a 19-8 score with 50 seconds left in the opening period.
Richlands needed one play to get the points back after taking over at its 42 following a short kickoff. Johnson took a handoff to the left, broke through three tackles and raced 58 yards for a score, and Ben Brown ran for the two-point PAT and a 27-8 lead after the first period.
Richlands was forced to actually drive for a score following a Carroll punt, working 72 yards in 11 plays and converting two third downs before Todd McGlothlin won a jump ball in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown reception and a 34-8 lead at 3:26 of the second.
Patrick Davis’ 33-yard kick return and a 26-yard Hash reception quickly had the Cavaliers at the Richlands 30, and Logan Hodges scored from two yards away seven plays later. Underwood tossed to Hash for the two-point conversion and a 34-16 game.
The Cavaliers had used a pair of timeouts on the possession to save some clock but left just a little too much time on the scoreboard as Richlands was able to reach the end zone one more time before the half, this time on a 27-yard Johnson reception for a 41-16 lead with five ticks left before intermission.
Richlands took the second-half kickoff and scored seven plays later on Staten’s second TD of the night, a two-yard burst with 8:40 left in the third.
After giving up points on seven straight Richlands possessions, the Cavaliers stopped the Tornado on back-to-back series, including a fumble recovery at midfield midway through the fourth quarter. With the second units on the field for both teams, Carroll County capped the scoring when Davis took a pitch to his right from the 8, sidestepped a pair of Richlands defenders and dove for the pylon and a touchdown with 3:21 remaining. Matt Hawks added the PAT for Carroll’s 23rd point, the most scored on the Richlands defense this year.
Offensively the Blue Tornado was just unstoppable. Johnson carried 12 times for 224 yards while Strong and his tall, rangy fleet of receivers were equally as impressive. Strong was 20-of-24 for 245 yards and three touchdowns as Richlands rolled up 517 yards of total offense.
Limited to 120 yards a year ago, the Cavaliers surpassed that total by halftime and would gain 117 yards both on the ground and through the air. Connor Lundy hit five receivers for 84 yards on 6-of-14 passing. Nine Cavalier ballcarriers were led by Hash with 49 yards on six rushes.
The road levels out drastically the rest of the way for the Cavaliers, who close out their home schedule with Tazewell this week before hitting the road for games at Marion and Patrick County.
“I’m glad [Richlands] is behind us now,” Hale said. “We played them tough. We wanted to play them for four quarters and keep it from being a running clock, and we accomplished that.”
Richlands............27 14 7 0––48
Carroll County......8 8 0 7––23
R–Johnson 82 run (kick failed) 8:56
R–Staten 1 run (Strong kick) 7:04
R–Flack 43 pass from Strong (kick failed) 2:57
CC–Mollett 3 run (Underwood run) 0:50
R–Johnson 58 run (Brown run) 0:30
R–McGlothlin 15 pass from Strong (Strong kick) 3:21
CC–Hodges 2 run (Hash pass from Underwood) 1:16
R–Johnson 27 pass from Strong (Strong kick) 0:05
R–Staten 2 run (Strong kick) 8:40
CC–Davis 8 run (Hawks kick) 3:21
First downs 18 10
Rushes-yards 28-272 37-117
Yards passing 245 117
Comp-Att-Int 20-24-0 7-15-0
Return yards 55 134
Punts-average 0-0 4-29.8
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 5-50 1-5
RUSHING—Richlands, D.Johnson 12-224, Staten 9-23, Click 2-11, Strong 1-3, E.Johnson 1-2, Ratliff 1-1, Brown 1-0, McCauley 1-(-3). Carroll County, Hash 6-49, Mollett 11-27, Davis 3-20, Underwood 1-10, Hodges 6-9, Blankenship 1-6, Alley 3-4, Marshall 2-3, Lundy 4-(-11).
PASSING–Richlands, Strong 20-24-0-245. Carroll County, Lundy 6-14-0-84, Underwood 1-1-0-33.
RECEIVING–Richlands, McGlothlin 5-72, Flack 4-66, Compton 6-50, D.Johnson 2-32, Duggan 2-22, E.Johnson 1-3. Carroll County, Smoot 2-41, Mollett 2-32, Hash 1-26, Hunter 1-9, Hodges 1-8.