Longhorns up record to 4-0

By Lesley Hughes
star staff

  Twenty one years have passed since Johnson County High School football started a season 4-0. On Thursday evening, the Longhorns matched that feat by defeating Unicoi County High Blue Devils 27-7 at Paul H. McEwen Stadium.
  Games across the region were rescheduled for Thursday night in an effort to avoid serious weather predicted for Friday when Hurricane Ivan dumps it wrath on Tennessee and North Carolina.
  "We are happy with the win," Longhorn coach Mike Atwood said. "We didn't feel like we played real good on defense or actually on offense. We made some mental mistakes and some penalties, but things we can correct. We are hoping we can put a full game together next week without making so many mental mistakes"
  The Longhorns, 2-0 in Mountain Lakes Conference play, relied on rushing the ball with 43 carries for 371 total yards. The only pass completed came on a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
  "We might add some stuff to our offense, but we've got a lot of things that we have not run, because we have just not had to," Atwood said. "Nobody has really stopped what we do. It really doesn't matter if they know what you are going to do if they can't stop it then it doesn't matter.
  Atwood added: "We are going to have to start throwing the ball a little bit. The conditions and the game being so close, we felt like they couldn't stop our run so we weren't going to take a chance on throwing an interception when we didn't have to. We work on our passing offense every week we have just not had to do it yet."
  Junior running back Tony Smith carried the ball 26 times for 262 yards and rushed for three of the team's four touchdowns.
  The first touchdown came at the 6:23 mark in the first quarter on a 13-yard run by Smith. The point after attempt by Jeffrey Brinker was good, giving the Horns a 7-0 lead.
  Following a second quarter fumble by the Blue Devils' Dusty Stephenson, the recovering Longhorns moved from their own 31-yard line to the end zone. The second touchdown of the game came by quarterback Jesse Jenkins on a 1-yard run. The extra point attempt was no good, bumping the Longhorns lead to 13-0.
  A third quarter 6-yard touchdown run came at 7:42 by Smith, after a 35-yard kickoff return by junior running back Ernie Hodge started off the second half. Longhorns jumped to a 19-0 lead after the extra point attempt failed.
  The Blue Devils scored their only touchdown during the fourth quarter on a run by sophomore running back Daniel Bishop. The extra point brought the score to 19-7.
  A final touchdown came halfway through the fourth quarter on a 60-yard rush by Smith. The two-point conversion pass was complete from Jenkins to wide receiver Shane Humphrey, making the final score 27-7.
  Atwood said of the UCHS team, "They played hard and they played good. That is a better football team than what our football team thought they were going to be. It was a closer game than what the scoreboard said."
  Other Johnson County notables were Tommy Gregg and Brinker who both had 10 tackles.