published Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Johnson stars as Pirates rip Indians

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. -- After waiting his turn behind an all-state running back last year, Demetric "Little Man" Johnson had been forced to wait the first two weeks of this season because of a gimpy ankle.

The gifted junior's wait to show what he can do finally came to an end Friday night as he led Class 1A's top-ranked South Pittsburg to a 41-14 win over previously unbeaten Sequatchie County.

Johnson carried 18 times for 209 yards and three touchdowns and added a 19-yard TD reception as for the third time in as many weeks the Pirates were responsible for handing an opponent its first loss.

"We knew it was just a matter of time before he had a breakout game," Pirates coach Vic Grider said. "That ankle had kind of slowed him down for a couple of weeks, but he's getting healthy now and he's just got too much talent not to make big plays for us.

"But we've got several guys who can make plays, and that keeps people from keying on Demetric."

While the defense struggled at times to stop a solid Sequatchie County ground game, the offense scored on four of its five first-half possessions to take control.

The Pirates needed just five plays to cover 60 yards on the opening drive, with Johnson leaping to bring down Jake Stone's throw in the end zone. But the Indians (3-1) answered by driving 76 yards in seven plays, all on the ground, before Jerry Fain swept around left end to tie the game.

After Stone connected with Antonio Chubb on a 38-yard TD pass to put the Pirates back in front for good, Johnson followed with an 80-yard scoring burst on the Pirates' first play of their next possession. Following that lightning-quick score, South Pittsburg's next drive covered 99 yards in 12 plays before Johnson scored on a 10-yard run.

"It's been a little frustrating because my ankle was bothering me, and I just wanted to get out there and run like I know I can," Johnson said. "It felt great to finally break a couple of big runs."

By halftime South Pittsburg had 332 total yards, and after Sequatchie dominated the third quarter, with 17 offensive plays to the Pirates' 6, Eli Stout's 9-yard scoring run pulled the visitors within 13 to start the fourth. But Johnson added his third rushing TD and Stone capped the night with a 9-yard keeper for the final margin.

The Pirates finished with 376 rushing and 489 total yards. Sophomore Jajuan Lankford added 90 yards and a conversion run.

Fain finished with 109 yards and Stout added 106 for the Indians.

"They made us look about as bad defensively as we've looked in a while," Grider said. "But they're a good football team, a veteran team with a lot of seniors, and I won't make any excuses, they just made some plays at times."

about Stephen Hargis...

Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...

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