BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Embarrassed last year in its first-ever trip to a state final, the Johnson Central High School football team found redemption Sunday night.
Joe Jackson rushed for three touchdowns and the Golden Eagles rolled up 344 rushing yards in a 48-0 rout of Franklin-Simpson in the Russell Athletic Class 4-A state championship game in front of 6,358 fans at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium.
Johnson Central (14-1) lost to South Warren 36-6 in last year’s 4-A final and used that as motivation this season.
“We felt like we let everybody in the mountains down last year,” Golden Eagles coach Jim Matney said. “This is important to our county and for everybody who has ever put on a black-and-gold jersey.”
Jackson scored on runs of 19, 29 and 5 yards as Johnson Central built a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Riley Preece’s 38-yard touchdown pass to Geordan Blanton and two-point conversion pass to Noah Frisby gave the Golden Eagles a 36-0 lead with 1:08 left in the first half and started the mercy-rule running clock for the rest of the game.
Blake Gamble led Johnson Central with 90 rushing yards on five carries, and Jackson added 85 yards on 15 attempts.
Matney also praised a defense that limited Franklin-Simpson to one first down and 18 total yards. Matney said he changed his program’s defensive philosophy the day after last year’s loss to South Warren.
“It’s been lights out almost ever since,” said Matney, whose squad allowed just 15 total points over five playoff games and finished with three straight shutouts. “We recognized we were trying to do a couple of real complicated things … and needed to change to a speedier defense. Things got simpler and became crystal clear for our kids.”
Josiah Robey was the top rusher for the Wildcats (14-1) with 25 yards on six carries.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and email@example.com.
JOHNSON CENTRAL 21 15 6 6 – 48
FRANKLIN-SIMPSON 0 0 0 0 – 0
First downs 18 1
Total yards 403 18
Rushes-yards 49-344 20-9
Comp-Att-Int 2-4-0 2-10-1
Passing yards 59 9
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-1
Punts-avg 2-36 6-34.7
Penalties-yards 6-38 6-59