The result left Johnson County with a 3-1 season record and Sullivan Central 0-3, with a losing streak that has now reached 33 games.
Down 13-0, the Longhorns talked at intermission about not becoming the Cougars’ first victim since 2014.
“Yeah, that was there,” Johnson County quarterback Troy Arnold said. “It’s what we talked about at halftime, not wanting to be that team.
“Our guys showed a lot of heart and character in getting it done in the second half. I’m really proud of the whole team.”
The ’Horns scored the game winner on a 4-yard run by Jared Kimble with just 1:35 to play, breaking a 27-27 deadlock.
ARNOLD THE HORSE
Johnson County did little in the first half, so head coach Don Kerley turned to Arnold to get his club going on the ground.
A powerful 6-foot, 225-pound senior, Arnold was more than Central could handle after intermission, finishing with 118 yards rushing on 17 carries.
“We came out in the second half looking for a spark and we were hoping it could be me,” said Arnold, who scored on a 1-yard run and also completed 10 of 18 passes for 73 yards. “It paid off for us.”
Johnson County came up big on special teams, in particular on a pair of game-turning plays.
First, was a punt block by Weston Throop, which set up a 9-yard TD run by Nathan Lane to cut Central’s lead to 13-7 with 5:39 left in the third period.
Then it was Lane himself, breaking loose for a 39-yard punt return for a score to put the visitors up 27-20 with 8:03 left in the game.
“Nathan is a special player,” Arnold said. “When he gets the ball, people get up on their feet to see what he might do.”
Central gained its 13-point halftime advantage on a 28-yard pass from Jackson Harrison to Gavin Harkleroad and then a 1-yard plunge from its senior QB.
Johnson County was able to tie it up on a 21-yard TD run from Isaiah Webster with four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Harrison played well in defeat, completing 15 of 29 passes for 270 yards and the touchdown to Harkleroad. He also scored twice on short runs.
“That’s a good ballclub over there,” Kerley said. “They did some good things and they need to keep their heads up.
“I feel for them. This game was a coin toss that could have gone either way, but we made some plays in the second half and were able to get it done.”