PAINTSVILLE, Ky. — Johnson Central’s Joe Jackson took the game’s opening handoff and like a bolt of lightning, burst through the left side of the line, broke three tackles and sprinted 65 yards for a touchdown.
It would be a sign of things to come, both on the field and in the sky.
Jackson racked up 198 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries, all in the first half, and spearheaded the Golden Eagles’ vaunted rushing attack in a 43-13 win over visiting South Charleston on Friday night.
With Johnson Central leading 23-6 with 9:10 left in the second quarter, the game went under a lightning delay, a stoppage that lasted just over an hour.
By then, Jackson had already ripped off three touchdown runs, adding scoring jaunts of 29 and 22 yards after his initial burst to put the Golden Eagles (2-1) firmly in control. He’d cap another first-half scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown dive and found the end zone a total of five times in the game.
The senior running back missed nearly all of last season after tearing an ACL in the Golden Eagles’ opener against Capital in 2017. It was a disappointing beginning and end to his junior year after Jackson rushed for 2,134 yards, 34 touchdowns and was named the MVP of the Kentucky Class 4A title game as a sophomore the season before.
Needless to say, he’s making up for lost time and continued that in a big way on Friday at the Black Eagles’ expense. The Golden Eagles finished with 326 rushing yards, with Devin Johnson adding 72 yards on seven carries.
South Charleston’s lone highlight of the first half came on Johnson Central’s second possession. Samahji Simon stepped in front of a pass thrown by Golden Eagles quarterback Ryley Preece and sprinted 65 yards to the end zone. SC (0-3) missed the extra point, but temporarily cut Central’s early lead to 7-6.
Three times, SC had Central in a third-down situation, but the Golden Eagles converted all three with the final one coming on Jackson’s 29-yard touchdown run.
Simon added another interception late in the second half, and his two picks were the only instances that Johnson Central drives in the first half didn’t end in a touchdown. The Golden Eagles took a 36-6 lead into halftime.
Jackson would add yet another touchdown in the third quarter, this time on a 21-yard pass reception from Preece, accounting for the lone score of the third quarter with 2:28 left. That score put Central up 43-6 and instituted a running clock for the rest of the game.
Drew Joseph capped South Charleston’s lone scoring drive on offense with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter as he plowed ahead from 4 yards out to account for the game’s final points. By that time, most of Central’s reserves were in the game. The score marked the first of Joseph’s career.
Other than the final drive, which spanned 76 yards over the end of the third and most of the fourth quarter, yardage was hard to come by. SC amassed just 149 total yards compared to 394 for the Golden Eagles. The Black Eagles were also limited to 10 first downs, with five coming on the final drive.
Shyleik Kinney was 7 for 22 passing for 53 yards for South Charleston, with Jaydyn Johnson rushing for 58 yards on 16 grueling carries to lead the Black Eagles’ rushing attack.