ABOUT-FACE: Pirates rally from 19 down, stun Johnson Central in finale
GOODY — The mark of a true champion is how one responds to getting hit square in the mouth.
Johnson Central kicked Belfry around through all but the final three minutes of the first half, building a 19-0 lead before the Pirates roared back for a stunning 35-19 win in the regular season finale played at CAM Stadium on Oct. 27.
The Golden Eagles, who closed out the regular season with back-to-back losses, appeared unstoppable behind the rushing attack of Blake Gamble and Devin Johnson.
Gamble, who finished with 72 yards on nine carries, set up the game's first score, capped off by quarterback Riley Preece's one-yard run with 8 seconds left in the opening period. Dalton Collins' PAT kick made it 7-0.
Johnson had just 28 yards on nine rushing attempts, but his three-yard run with 6:50 remaining in the first half and a five-yard run with 5:30 to go push the lead to 19-0.
Belfry's comeback was fueled by Taveon Hunter's 63-yard pass from quarterback Avery Browning with 2:52 left, pulling the Pirates to within 19-7. Hunter caught two passes for 77 yards and finished with 95 yards rushing on seven attempts.
Hunter ran 35 yards for a touchdown with 9:37 left to go in the third quarter to make it 19-14. His 43-yard run with 39 seconds to go put the Pirates ahead for good and the first time at 21-19.
Hunter scored his fourth touchdown on a 14-yard pass from Browning with 9:38 left to play. Running back Derek Wellman, who rushed for 46 yards on 12 carries, capped the scoring with a seven-yard run with 4:28 remaining.
Both teams begin post-season play tonight as Belfry will host Thomas Nelson (3-7) in Class 3A while Johnson Central welcomes Mason County (7-3) in Class 5A.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
JC (8-2)….7 12 0 0 – 19
BF (9-1)…0 7 14 14 – 35
JC – Riley Preece, 1-yard run (Dalton Collins kick), :08
JC – Devin Johnson, 3-yard run (kick blocked), 6:50
JC – Devin Johnson, 5-yard run (run failed), 5:30
BF – Taveon Hunter, 63-yard pass from Avery Browning (Dylan Brown kick), 2:52
BF – Taveon Hunter, 35-yard run (Dylan Brown kick), 9:37
BF – Taveon Hunter, 43-yard run (Dylan Brown kick), :39
BF – Taveon Hunter, 14-yard pass from Avery Browning, 9:38
BF – Derek Wellman, 7-yard run (Dylan Brown kick), 4:28
Next up: Johnson Central (8-2) vs. Mason County (7-3), Class 4A playoffs; Belfry (9-1) vs. Thomas Nelson (3-7), Class 3A playoffs, Nov. 3.