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12 October 2007
Johnson Breaks School Mark with Four Rushing TDs in Rout of Govs

By Al Muskewitz
Star Sports Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Jacksonville State quarterback Cedric Johnson celebrates one of his four touchdowns in the Gamecocks’ rout of Austin Peay State on Thursday in Clarksville, Tenn. Photo: Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — There was a reason Jacksonville State signed quarterback Cedric Johnson over the winter.

He showed it Thursday night.

The former junior college All-American continued his impressive run as a starter. He accounted for 233 yards of total offense, scored a school-record four rushing touchdowns and led the Gamecocks to an encompassing 42-9 rout of Austin Peay in front of 5,289 at Governors Stadium and a national television audience.

“We wanted to put somebody in the game who could give us an edge,” JSU coach Jack Crowe said. “He’s a good sandlot football player.”

The Gamecocks (4-3, 3-1) still weren’t able to produce a 100-yard rusher in a game, but Johnson came close. He rushed for 94 yards on eight carries and scored on runs of 6, 15, 69 and 11 yards.

He also completed 10 of 13 passes for 139 yards, before giving way in the fourth quarter to Matt Hardin, who directed the offense on a 99-yard touchdown drive.

“All of this is in his history,” Crowe said. “He’s not done anything we didn’t see on film and didn’t hear about when he was back in Americus (Ga.). What we didn’t know is if he could lead our football team, if he would respond in the moment in a way that would make a difference for us, because we had a quarterback.

“We weren’t looking for a quarterback. We were looking for a guy who could lead us, and right now we have two quarterbacks, in my opinion. But I think Cedric has shown that he can give us the winning edge in any football game we can play.”

Johnson single-handedly gave the Gamecocks their 21-9 halftime lead. He scored on runs of 6, 15 and 69 yards in the first 23 minutes of the game, becoming the first quarterback since Maurice Mullins in 2003 to score three touchdowns in a game.

He set the record for rushing touchdowns with an 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave JSU a 35-9 lead. Rondy Rogers has the school record with five touchdowns in a 2001 game at Stephen F. Austin, but two of those came in receiving.

“I’m just coming out and playing ball; I didn’t even know that was a school record,” Johnson said. “If it happens, it happens. I’m just coming playing ball, trying to make plays so we can win the OVC.

“I feel good about it, but it’s nothing new. I’ve been doing this since high school.”

Just how dominant was the offense on this night? The Gamecocks had five touchdown drives of 58 yards or more — nearly doubling their season total — and they cranked out 462 yards of total offense, 256 on the ground without producing a 100-yard runner.

They converted 11 of 16 third-down opportunities — 7 of 9 in the second half — and held the ball for more than 37 minutes. They controlled the ball for 22 minutes, 30 seconds in the second half alone.

“I think it says a lot about everybody,” senior guard and game captain Devin May said. “Our line played solid no matter who was back there running. For us to have that many backs with that many yards is great.”

Crowe admitted it could have been a “dangerous” situation when he replaced Hardin with Johnson as the starter in the Memphis game, but Hardin has taken the high road in his back-up role. And, true to what Crowe maintained right after making the change, the fifth-year senior came in to make plays to help the Gamecocks win a game.

He took over for Johnson in the fourth quarter with the Gamecocks pinned against the goal line and, coming back from an interception earlier in the game, led the offense on its longest scoring drive of the year. Ty Griswold capped it with a 1-yard run for the game’s final touchdown. Ronald Murray scored JSU’s other touchdown on a 2-yard run in the third quarter.

Hardin found himself in that position after the JSU defense stopped Peay on three straight plays from the 1. Duane Tolbert and Devin Phillips stopped Spencer Gulmire on fourth down to end the threat. It kept the JSU lead at 35-9.

“The goal-line stand was humongous,” Tolbert said. “All week our coaches talked about how (Peay) was a second-half team, and that’s when they like making their runs. I just had a feeling if they would have made that touchdown, they probably would’ve gained a lot of momentum and started making more of a run, but our defense held together tight.”

The Gamecocks scored on their first possession of the game, but they trailed 9-7 by quarter’s end.

Alexander Henderson gave JSU possession when he pulled the ball away from Peay receiver Jeff Lyle on the third play of the game. Seven plays later, Johnson bolted into the right corner of the end zone from six yards out.

The Governors came right back and got in position to match the touchdown, driving all the way to the JSU 7, but had to settle for a 30-yard Isaac Ziolkowski field goal.

Chris Fletcher gave Peay the lead on a 6-yard run with 2.2 seconds left in the quarter, but Ziolkowski’s extra-point attempt hit the right upright.

The Gamecocks regained the lead for good with 11:24 left in the half on Johnson’s second touchdown.

His big run came when he rolled left on the option, but when the play broke down, he reversed direction and raced down the field leaving Peay defenders in his wake.

“A lot my runs were there,” Johnson said. “On the first one, we called a bootleg and the run was there, so I took it. I could have thrown it, but I really didn’t want to take that chance. I saw that I had some green in front of me so I just ran it.

“The second one was supposed to be a running play, and I just missed the handoff. (On the long one), they were overplaying the option so I cut it back and there was nobody there. It turned out pretty good.”

Jacksonville State vs. Tenn. Tech
Oct. 20, 2:30 p.m., 91.9 and 97.9 FM, CSS

About Al Muskewitz

Al Muskewitz covers golf and Jacksonville State University sports teams for The Star.

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