FISHERSVILLE – It’s rare when you’d consider a 21-point victory a “gut check,” but that is what Stuarts Draft had Friday in its game against Wilson Memorial.
Playing on a short week after Monday’s win over Buffalo Gap, the Cougars got off to a slow start. But thanks to four touchdowns from Izzy Johnson and a solid defensive effort, Draft got back on track with a 28-7 victory over the Green Hornets at Steve Geiman Stadium.
“We’ve played two tough teams this week,” said Draft coach Nathan Floyd, whose team topped Buffalo Gap 21-7 on Monday in a game that had been moved from Friday due to rain. “Wilson is a lot better than their record shows, and we persevered and got through a tough week.”
The week got a little tougher than expected on the Cougars’ first series when they fumbled the ball away to Wilson at their 40, and the Hornets converted it into a touchdown two plays later. But the Draft defense found its footing soon after and kept Wilson out of the end zone the rest of the way, holding the Hornets to 51 yards of offense after the first series, and 53 in the second half.
“[The fumble] was a momentum changer,” Floyd said, “but it helps that we have a senior class of players who are mentally tough and kept their composure. We, as coaches, kept our composure and we all were able to get through it.”
Having Johnson in the backfield made it easier to get through it, too. The senior scored on runs of 24, 2, 61 and 6 yards, and finished the game, unofficially, with 174 yards on 19 carries.
Johnson’s first score came two series after the Hornets’ Colton Tyree went over from the Draft 3 to give Wilson a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. The Cougars were forced to punt on their ensuing series and a sack ended the next series, but they got things in gear after a fourth-down sack at the Hornets 46 late in the first quarter.
Four plays later, Johnson powered through the line for a 24-yard TD run. Will Wilkinson’s PAT tied the game at 7-7.
The Draft defense forced a three-and-out on Wilson’s next series, then drove 60 yards in six plays to take the lead. Quarterback Garrett Campbell and receiver Robert Peck combined for the big play on the drive, hooking up on a 34-yard play down the left sideline to the Wilson 5.
That set up Johnson for his second score as he took it in from the 2 to make it 14-7.
The Hornets went three-and-out again and punted to the Cougars 39. Once again, it was Johnson doing the damage, racing 61 yards for his third touchdown on the first play of the series.
Draft’s defense set up Johnson’s final touchdown, blocking a Wilson punt that was recovered by junior Caleb Carter at the Hornets 32. Consecutive runs by Johnson got the ball to the 8 and Areian Sanders took it to the 6 before Johnson finished off the drive from there.
The Hornets got tough yardage from Tyree, Logan Leche and Eddie Harris, but lost Khalid Turay to an injury in the second quarter.
“Our kids played hard, and that’s all I can ask,” Wilson coach Jeremiah Major said. “We had some injuries that hurt us, and we’re not deep at those positions. I think their defensive ends (Carter and John Gumann) are the two best we’ve seen this year. [The Cougars] definitely have the tools to be successful.”
STUARTS DRAFT 7 14 0 7 — 28
WILSON MEMORIAL 7 0 0 0 — 7
W – Tyree 3 run (Myers kick)
S – Johnson 24 run (Wilkinson kick)
S – Johnson 2 run (Wilkinson kick)
S – Johnson 61 run (Wilkinson kick)
S – Johnson 6 run (Wilkinson kick)