Johns’ 2 TDS leads Pirates to sixth straight win, 5-0 in TCC

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Boonville junior Jackson Johns finds help from his teammates after an interception in the third quarter. Johns wound up scoring from 83 yards out to give the Pirates a 40-17 lead with 2:45 left in the third.
Boonville senior Travis Dell applies pressure on Versailles quarterback Adam Radcliff in the second half Friday night in Tri-County Conference action at Gene Reagan field.

Boonville junior Jackson Johns had plenty of reasons to smile Friday night after the game against the Versailles Tigers at Gene Reagan field.

With two touchdowns on the night-one offensively and one defensively-Johns seemed to be more affixed with the Pirates 47-17 dismantling of the Tigers than his two scores.

Nonetheless, Johns proudly wore the silver chain after Boonville remained unbeaten in the Tri-County Conference at 5-0. The win was also the Pirates sixth straight win after the season-opening loss to the Pleasant Hill Roosters 43-35.

Johns said it felt great scoring two touchdowns for the first time in his high school career but was more worried how the team came out to start the game. “We didn’t come out and dominate exactly how we wanted to but personally as a team, you can’t really complain,” Johns said. “In the first half it was a little bit on both sides offensively and defensively. We had to make an adjustment with our pass coverage and came out in the second half and really did well.”

As for the first of his two touchdowns on the night, Jackson said he thought he was out of bounds when he caught the ball but the referee said he had one foot in so he’ll take it. Johns scored with 17 seconds left on a 23 yard pass from junior quarterback Colby Caton to give Boonville the lead at the half 24-17.

As for the second touchdown, Johns said the interception kind of flipped the teams mojo a little bit because Versailles was completing a lot of late third and fourth down passes.

The timing was also perfect as Versailles had just picked up a first down after a pass interference call at the Boonville 33. Two plays later, Johns stepped in front of an errant pass by Versailles quarterback Adam Radcliff and ran it back 83 yards for a touchdown to extend the Pirates lead to 40-17.

Johns said it was his second time wearing the chain. He said he also wore it during the Southern Boone game for making a good play.

“It's just kind of a pride thing,” Johns said. “It means a lot to wear it, but really I’m more proud of the team on my interception because without them blocking for me I would have never scored. I went straight to Abram Taylor after the pick because he was all the way down field blocking for me. If I didn’t have the cut back with his block I’m getting tackled like at the 45.”

Boonville football coach Greg Hough said a little adjustment at the half, going from zone to man, was all the difference the team needed and credited both his coaching staff and players for making the switch.

Of course it definitely wasn’t the start Hough was looking for as Versailles opened the game with a nine-play, 56-yard drive for the score to go up 7-0. The 9-yard run by running back Chase Shewmaker was the second touchdown by an opponent in the last-two weeks to score on its opening drive against Boonville.

Osage accomplished the feat last week on Homecoming against Boonville.

“The energy just didn't feel like it was there tonight,” Hough said. “But coming off a pretty big win on Homecoming with a huge crowd the week before I kind of expected it. However, we won by 30 so we need to celebrate the win but after that it’s time to move forward and get to work.  Our goal is get plus 13 every game. It doesn't matter who we are playing. If we don’t get the 13 than we just need to win the game.”

The Pirates were definitely in a dogfight in the first half. Although the Tigers scored first, Boonville also showed that it could score in a hurry after hitting paydirt on only three plays on its first possession. The 4-yard run by senior running back DaWan Lomax, plus the two-point conversion by Jamesian McKee put the Pirates on top 8-7 with 7:01 left.

Meanwhile, after trading interceptions on their next drives, Versailles put on another offensive display by moving the ball 77 yards on 15 plays down to the Boonville 5. However, on fourth and goal, the Tigers elected to go for a 22 yard field goal instead and wound up splitting the uprights to regain the lead at 10-8 with 7:19 remaining in the half.

Boonville came right back again on its next series, moving the ball 57 yards on four plays for the score when Lomax scampered 31 yards for the touchdown to make it 14-10. McKee later scored on the two-point conversion to extend the lead to 16-10 with 5:47 left in the half.

At that point it seemed like both teams were trading scores as Versailles came right back and hit paydirt on a 10-play drive for a touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Radcliff to Kole Viebrock to tie the game at 16-all. The Tigers added the PAT to go up 17-16 with 43 seconds left.

Hough said he doesn’t know what happened on the facemask penalty on the punt to extend Versailles drive in what would have been Boonville’s ball otherwise. “It was just a bad penalty on our part but we’ll get it corrected and move forward,” Hough said.

Luckily for Boonville, they still had 39 seconds left on the clock and drove the ball down field for the score on just three plays when Caton found Johns in the back of the end zone on a 23-yard scoring strike. The Pirates went 72 yards in 22 yards to get the score.

“We can score offensively and we can score quick and that was huge with 39 seconds left to score and then get the ball to start the second half,” Hough said.  “As a team I think it’s just kind of a reflection of who we are because even if we win the toss to start the game, we’re going to defer until the second half because we want the ball.”

The Pirates had plenty of scoring in the second half with 23 unanswered points while pitching a shutout on defense. With 30-plus points in five out of the six games this season, Boonville once again left little doubt in the second half with three touchdowns-the first coming on a 5-yard run by McKee with 9:54 left in the third quarter to make it 32-17. Then, after forcing Versailles to punt on its first possession, Boonville turned it over on downs but later came back with an interception for a touchdown by Johns to extend the lead to 40-17 with 2:45 left.

McKee also scored on the two-point conversion for Boonville’s 11th straight since the game against the California Pintos in Week 5.

Boonville’s final touchdown of the ball game came at the 4:47 mark in the fourth quarter on a 8-yard run by senior Luke Green to seal the victory. The final drive may have also been the most impressive as the Pirates drove 93 yards on 10 plays for the score to push the lead to 47-17.

Boonville finished the game with 15 first downs along with 244 yards rushing and 131 passing for a total of 375. Versailles also had 15 first downs along with 95 yards rushing and 180 passing for a total of 275.

Lomax led all rushers for Boonville with 129 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. McKee had five carries for 33 yards and one score while Caton had four carries for 22 yards, Rhodes Leonard three carries for 18 yards, Dakota Troost two for 15 yards, Johns one for 12 yards, and Luke Green with one carry for 8 yards and one touchdown. 

Caton, meanwhile, completed 9 of 12 passes for 100 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Johns was 1 for 1 for 35 yards, while McKee was 0 for 1.

Dakota Troost was the leading receiver with three catches for 46 yards. Blake Griffin finished with one catch for 39 yards, while Johns had three for 36 yards and one score, Green one catch for 7 yards, Lomax one for 4 yards and McKee one for 3 yards.

On defense, Connor Acton finished the game with 17 tackles to lead the Pirates. Nash McKenzie had 10 tackles, followed by, Johns with eight tackles and one interception, Xavier Flippin with eight, Tyson Ellison seven, McKee five tackles and one interception, Ethan Watson five tackles, Troost and Travis Dell each with three tackles, Max Eckerle two tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss, Lomax, Peyton Hahn, Leonard, Langston Hall and Trent Maxwell each with two tackles, and Gage Hodges, Zane Watring, Gabe Brimer, Conner Baysinger and Isaiah Escamilla with one tackle apiece.

For Versailles, Radcliff rushed for 54 yards on 17 carries while completing 20 of 28 passes for 180 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Viebrock was the leading receiver for the Tigers with seven catches for 86 yards and one touchdown.