UTICA — The Utica football team threw everything but the kitchen sink at Licking County League rival Johnstown Friday. Problem was, the Johnnies had all the answers, rolling to a 58-23 victory over the Redskins in a game that was closer than the final score suggested.
“I think the scoreboard was uglier than the play indicated tonight,” said Utica coach Charlie Rowley. “Obviously, Johnstown is a really good football team. But, this one got away from us at the end. I’m proud of the effort. We put together a full game tonight.”
The Johnnies (7-1 overall, 3-0 LCL) rushed for 450 yards on the night, including 11 plays of more than 10 yards. But, they needed every one of those big plays to keep the Redskins at bay.
Utica (1-7, 0-3) looked to be in command early, scoring the first points of the night on a 31-yard field goal from Caleb Lybarger. The Redskins, after stopping Johnstown on just four plays, used 14 plays to chew up six minutes on the clock before kicking the field goal.
But, in what became a common theme throughout the night, the Johnnies responded.
Johnstown went 64 yards on the night drive, scoring on a 1-yard run by Luke Myers to take the lead. The Johnnies scored again on their next drive, taking a 15-3 lead.
The Redskins wouldn’t go away quietly, scoring on a 52-yard pass play from Collin McCullough to Clayton Cummons to pull within six.
Johnstown needed just two plays to take the air out of the Redskins’ sail once again. A big kickoff return by Bryce Barasch set up Caden Calhoun for a 41-yard touchdown run and the lead was back to 14.
It went that way for most of the night, Johnstown scoring on the ensuing drive after Utica had punched one in to close the gap.
“Focus. Our kids were focused and did not let the little things get to them. They were able to fight through adversity,” said Johnstown coach Mike Carter. “Give them (Utica) credit. They came to play tonight.”
Utica tried to launch another comeback in the third quarter, closing the gap to 14, 37-23, when Garrett Meyers scored on a 12-yard run with 12 seconds left in the period.
But, the big-strike capabilities of the Johnnies and Calhoun made sure the final was never in doubt, scoring just 10 seconds later on a 59yard run.
“We just never could get it under 14. We did a pretty good job, but we gave up a couple of big ones that cost us,” Rowley said.
The Johnnies made it look ugly with two scores in the final frame to slam the door on the Redskins. They also picked off two Utica passes to seal the deal.
“The scoreboard didn’t show what we wanted, but we did some good things tonight. I think the kids realize that there are some things we can build on from this,” Rowley said. “Hopefully, we’ll have another great week at practice and get ready for Northridge.”
Barasch led the Johnnies’ ground attack, rushing for 222 yards on 24 carries. Calhoun added 162 yards on just eight carries, while Myers had 43 on eight totes. The Redskins were led by Meyers, who ran the ball 27 times for 121 yards. Marston added 27 yards and Ryan Cree had 25 on just two carries.
McCullough completed 14 of 31 passes for 199 yards. He was picked off four times, though. Marston caught five of those passes for 22 yards, while Cummons had three catches for 75 yards and Ethan Adams had three receptions for 67 yards.
The Redskins will host Northridge next Friday.