KentuckyPreps - Johnson Central knocks off Capital High School (WV) 31-20
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Johnson Central knocks off Capital High School (WV) 31-20

Photo Credit: Clinton Hackney
Photo Credit: Clinton Hackney (Clinton Hackney)

Clinton Hackney provided Kentucky Preps with the following article with permission from Johnson Central:

Johnson Central needed every ounce of 5'10'' Blake Gamble to secure a season opening win Friday night as they began their 4A state title defense!

The Golden Eagles opened the 2017 campaign with a win versus West Virginia power Capital High School in the inaugural Hutch Bowl 31-20. The contest featured the #2 overall team in WV in the Cougars and the #1 4A team in Kentucky in the Golden Eagles (3rd overall per It was only the second time that Capital has played an out-of-state opponent on the road (last season lost 23-6 to JC) and was the second game of a four year contract between the two schools.

Johnson Central got on the board early as they won the toss and drove down the field behind the running of junior stud Joe Jackson. Blake Gamble would punch in a short run to cap the drive and the score was quickly 7-0. After a three and out by Capital, The Golden Eagles would again flex their muscle behind the biggest offensive line Head Coach Jim Matney has ever had in his 30 plus year career. That's when Eagle Nation got worried. Jackson came up limping after fighting off multiple tacklers and exited the game with a knee injury. Momentum had quickly turned as all eyes seemed to be on the sideline where athletic trainers were working on a pain stricken Jackson. There was still 6:30 remaining in the 1Q and some of our younger kids were wondering what to do.

Enter Blake Gamble.

The sturdy, multiple sport senior provided stability as many young Eagles were earning their flight wings. Securing the first of his two interceptions to stamp out a capital drive.

Early in the 2Q, sophomore Devin Johnson would force a hurried snap that resulted in senior Dawson Stalker recovering the football in the endzone for TD. XP was no good and the game was 13-0 in favor of the home team. Johnson and Gamble would carry the load to go along with timely passing from sophomore QB Preece to net another TD (2XP no good) and the score was JC 19 Capital 0 late in the 2Q.

But Capital is a good team and good teams have answers.

The Cougars would march down the field with a hurry-up passing game and punch in their first score of the night to make it 19-7 (Short run). With just under two minutes to go in the half, JC was looking to grind out the clock and get into the locker.

Adjustments needed to be made, the running game was sluggish as capital was adjusting, and defensive assignments were getting missed. Not to mention that Joe Jackson was still hurt and Capital was set to receive the ball to start the 3Q.

The Golden Eagles were able to get the game clock under two minutes and pin the Cougars on their own 4 yard line with no timeouts. Seemed ideal, but turned out to be anything but. After a few quick passes, Capital was able to complete a 70-yard bomb (most of it through the air) to a wide open receiver who would walk into the end zone. The play came on a QB scramble as he avoided not one, but two sure tackles in the backfield then found his target all alone as the secondary lost coverage.

The score was 19-14 at half and all the momentum was on Capital's side.

The second half started with Blake Gamble again securing an interception on the opening Capital drive as he batted a ball in the air and collected it over his head as both he and the pigskin fell to the ground. He stabilized the Eagles in the first half and opened the second half letting Capital know just how quick momentum can shift. Gamble would later score on the ground, breaking multiple tackles to extend the lead to 25-14 (2XP no good).

If some Gamble is good, more is better as he would score again on the following drive with a 16 yard TD pass (XP blocked). The score was now 31-14 and we were just underway in the 4Q.

Capital would reproduce its miracle first half play with a similar one to start the final segment.

With the ball on JC's 26 yard line, the shotgun snap went 10 yards over the QB's head and he ran well past the 50 before throwing a missile over 50 yards on the run. His receiver was again standing all alone in the end zone for what would go down as a 26 yard pass (2XP no good).

With 9:40 left in the game the score was 31-20 and JC had the ball. The Golden Eagles would not give it back as they converted on 4 fourth downs during the drive to eventually kneel out the clock. Gamble would carry the ball on each of the 4th down attempts and get the necessary yardage every time.

On the night, Gamble would have 24 carries for 107 yards and 2 TD's. 3 catches for 46 and 1 TD (to include a 3rd and 29 conversion in double coverage in the 2nd half), 2 INT's on defense, and 4 solo tackles while playing every snap on offense and defensive aside for one series where it appeared his entire body cramped all at once. He did this with the entire defense keying on him and without Joe Jackson in the backfield (injury thought to be minor and he was held out for precaution per early reports).

In front of 7,000 people a small Gamble proved to be all that was needed for the Golden Eagles as they opened their title defense with a very good win.

JC will be back in action next Friday night on the road at 6A Henry Clay.