Johnson runs wild

GWINN – If George Johnson hadn’t been sidelined in the third quarter with what is believed to be a minor injury, the Negaunee High School back might still be running.

Sprung loose by strong blocking from the Miners’ offensive line, Johnson rushed for 287 yards and scored three touchdowns to lead Negaunee to a 55-22 Mid-Peninsula Conference win over host Gwinn Friday night.

The speedy 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior scored on runs of 29, 41 and 49 yards before coming out with a sore ankle.

“He ran wild,” NHS head coach Paul Jacobson said after his team improved to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in M-PC play. “We got good blocking up front and on the edge, too.”

The Miners lost starting quarterback Brock Aho to a knee injury with 1:52 left in the first quarter, which Jacobson said helped spur his team’s offensive surge.

“We challenged the kids to pick it up,” he said. “Losing Brock narrowed what we could do (offensively), but we put some pressure on the line to perform.”

Jacobson said Aho “tweaked” a knee.

“The initial prognosis is he shouldn’t miss much (playing time),” the coach said.

Negaunee, with Shane Ring adding 119 yards rushing and Neal Violetta – who replaced Johnson – chipping in 83, finished with 477 yards on the ground.

“When you’re running behind that big offensive line, the sky’s the limit. You’re going to get some yards,” Gwinn head coach Dion Brown said. “Johnson is a tough back to bring down. He runs hard and when he gets into the open field, he’s shifty.”

Negaunee struck quickly and often. Aho scored on a 1-yard run just 4:08 into the game, then sub QB Eric Hurst – on a fourth-and-goal from the Gwinn 19 the first play after replacing Aho – hit Dylan Tasson in the end zone with a scoring pass.

“Ice. Hurst is like ice,” Jacobson said.

A Carter Ghiringhelli fumble recovery for Gwinn (1-4, 1-2) then led to a 4-yard TD burst by Christopher Bosworth.

But just 1:13 later, Ring scampered 30 yards for a score and a 20-6 NHS lead.

The Modeltowners made it 20-14 with 5:02 left in the half on a Devin Dachs 3-yard score. But the Miners came right back with a 29-yard TD sprint by Johnson he set up himself with a 38-yard run to make it 28-14 at the half.

“That was a huge (TD) run for them,” Brown said. “It took some momentum from us.”

The Miners got Johnson’s 41- and 49-yard TD runs just 5:02 into the third quarter to put the game away with a 42-14 advantage.

“You can’t give them big plays like that,” Brown said. “That was the difference. They made the big plays.

“As a program, those are things we have to fix. We played well. We’re still a young team and the kids are still getting acquainted to what we’re trying to do.”

Dachs, back after missing some extended action with a high ankle sprain, wound up with 69 yards rushing to lead the Modeltowners, who gained 220 yards overall on offense.

Jacobson, whose Big Schools No. 3-ranked team needs just one more win to clinch a postseason playoff berth, was pleased with his squad’s play.

“To come here all banged up and still get a win, I’m happy with that.”

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is cremsburg@miningjournal.net.