Johnson Central (Ky.) manufactured a dominant third quarter to pull away from South Charleston in an eventual 59-29 win Friday night.
The Black Eagles entered halftime down one score on the momentum of a 99-yard Romeo Dunham kickoff return for a touchdown, but the visiting Golden Eagles scored four third-quarter touchdowns to quickly thwart any comeback hopes for South Charleston.
“I think our running game wore them down,” Johnson Central coach Jim Matney said. “We just try to wear the other team down and do what we do.”
The Golden Eagles (3-0) finished with 34 rushing attempts for 304 yards. Senior quarterback Ryley Preece paced all runners with seven carries for 103 yards, including two touchdowns. Preece also completed 2 of 3 passing attempts for two touchdowns.
“It’s a huge win for us,” Preece said. “The first half, we came out a little shaky, but after halftime we got things sorted out. South Charleston, they’re always a great team, and it’s always great to come down here and play with this bunch and get a win.”
South Charleston (1-2) scored on back-to-back offensive possessions to open the game and take a 14-7 lead. Both times Black Eagles freshman quarterback Trey Dunn scored on rushing touchdowns.
Johnson Central responded with the game’s next 23 points to lead 30-14 and looked to take that momentum into halftime. Dunham, however, returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score with 11 seconds left in the first half. After the successful 2-point conversion attempt, the Black Eagles trailed 30-22.
In the third quarter, the Golden Eagles held the Black Eagles to just one first down and forced South Charleston into two interceptions, including a 44-yard return for a touchdown by Preece.
“That’s a good football team — you can’t make mistakes,” Black Eagles coach Donnie Mays said. “We, as a team, have to learn from our mistakes, because we’re right there. I told them we’re right there on the cusp of being pretty daggone good. You don’t play with a team that’s No. 1 in the state like that. We moved the ball on them pretty well. We have to get better defensively. We have to want to tackle a little bit better. That’s football.”
The win marked the second in as many trips to the Charleston area this season for Johnson Central after the Golden Eagles defeated Capital 28-13 on Aug. 31 and held the Cougars to 71 total yards.
“Every time that we play up here in Charleston, whether it’s Capital or whether it’s South Charleston, they come out and play,” Matney said. “They’re well-coached and it always ends up being crazy games.”
Johnson Central led 59-22 to start the fourth quarter with a running clock. Dunn tossed a fourth-quarter touchdown, a 24-yard pass to Donavin Davis, to finish the game’s scoring.
South Charleston next plays at last season’s Class AAA state runner-up Spring Valley at 7:30 p.m. Friday.