TEMPERANCE — Ann Arbor Pioneer Wildcat quarterback Drake Johnson walked across the field and thanked Bedford coach Jeff Wood moments after he single-handedly led the Pioneers to a 38-14 victory over the Kicking Mules last night.
Johnson's post-game greeting to the opposing coach was as sincere as his running with the football in last night's Southeastern Conference Red Divisino game.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior finished with 390 yards on 21 carries, including touchdown runs of 75, 37, 2, 85 and 64 yards to carry the Pioneers (4-2, 3-0 SEC).
The Mules (4-2, 2-1),two-time defending Red Division champions, simply had no answer on how to slow down Johnson.
PHOTO GALLERY: Ann Arbor Pioneer vs. Bedford Friday Sep. 30
"He's a great athlete and that great offensive line is big and strong," Wood said. "They flat out get off the ball and get after you and he finds the seam and goes.
"I thought we did well, but he'd get five, five, five and then he'd spring one."
The most impressive part of Johnson's performance was he achieved most of his work before halftime. He scored his first four TDs before halftime and had gained 316 yards on 19 carries to help Pioneer take a 31-7 advantage into the break.
Johnson, who rushed for more than 400 yards in a game earlier this season, didn't see much action after halftime. He carried the ball only twice in the second half, but the second touch proved to be his final carry and touchdown of the night. He scampered 64 yards into the end zone to give Pioneer a 38-7 lead with 9:54 left in the third quarter.
He thanked his offensive line for providing plenty of running room all game.
"They did a fantastic job," Johnson said. "There were amazing holes. The thing that they're amazing at doing is they'd block to the next level. They'd hit a person and I'd get through the hole and they'd bounce to the next level and keep giving me selections for holes down the field."
Bedford actually opened the contest with the offense running smoothly and effectively against the Pioneers defense.
The Mules took only five plays to march 57 yards with Aaron Czesak (15 carries for 122 yards) finishing off the drive with a 25-yard touchdown scamper to give them a 7-0 lead with 10:27 left in the opening quarter.
Czesak carried the ball three times for 52 yards on the quick scoring drive.
And, if only for a moment, it looked like the Mules were on their way to a night of offensive fireworks to entertain the home crowd.
As it turned out, the Pioneers' playmaker lit up the scoreboard and stole the show with some nifty footwork running through and around the Mules defense.
Johnson did more than enough damage during the first half. His first touch of the game set the tempo for the rest of the night.
After the Pioneers were called for a penalty on their first play from scrimmage, Johnson took the next snap and streaked untouched through the Mules defense on his way to his first touchdown of the contest to even the score at 7-7 with 10:07 left in the first quarter.
Bedford's Jonathan Prajzner rushed for 113 yards on 21 carries.
Contact Donald Emmons at: email@example.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @Demmons.
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