GAINESVILLE — The Warriors kept their hard earned momentum from last week's unexpected upset of Greenbrier going strong on the road, defeating Johnson-Gainesville 56-7 to earn a rare winning streak for the suddenly ascendant high school football program.
Walnut Grove looked dominant against the beleaguered Knights, moving up and down the field seemingly at will in the victory.
Walnut Grove scored on its first possession, needing only three plays to march 47 yards following a short Johnson punt. Chad Walden ran the score in from 23 yards out for the early lead.
Brenden Hamrick knocked the kick in for a 7-0 score.
Johnson was set to punt on another three-and-out, but Walnut Grove bobbled the catch and the Knights fell on the fumble to regain possession. Johnson merely went three-and-out and punted once more.
Starting at the Knights 21-yard line, Walnut Grove moved quickly, needing only two plays and 40 seconds to score on a 17-yard pass from Evan Welborn to Austin Coleman.
Coleman then returned the ensuing Johnson punt to the 6, though a holding penalty would push that back to the Knights 35. Another holding call would push it back to the 50, but three plays later the Warriors earned a new set of downs. Two plays after that, Kolton Goodbar caught the ball in the end zone to end the first quarter on another Walnut Grove touchdown.
The Warriors started their next drive on their own side of the field for the first time all night, but it hardly mattered.
It took a few more plays, with a near fumble and several penalties along the way, but three minutes later, Walden scored once more on a 23-yard dash up the middle.
After yet another three-and-out by the Knights, Goodbar caught the punt around the Johnson 40 and then escaped a tackle to return it for a touchdown to go up 35-0.
The Knights fumbled immediately on the next drive, picked up by Colby Yancey, giving the Warriors the ball at the Johnson 26.
A few plays later, Kendall Lee ran it into the end zone from the 3 for a 42-0 score.
The Warriors would end the first half with one more score as Lance Jones scampered 51 yards for a touchdown as time expired on the quarter.
Johnson started the second half with its first kickoff of the night, a squib kick recovered at midfield by the Warriors. Led by Lee and the Warriors’ reserve players, Walnut Grove marched down the field on a running clock to score on a 4-yard quarterback keeper by Lee.
Johnson mounted its first sustained drive of the night on the following possession, recording its first first down of the game, on a fourth down conversion to boot, without the use of a penalty. The Knights converted a second fourth down to finally score on a 33-yard touchdown run to end the shutout.
Johnson then recovered the onside kick and drove to the 27, but a lost snap on third down brought up a long fourth down and the Warriors sniffed out a fake punt and shut it down to regain the ball near midfield.
The Warriors chewed up the clock driving all the way down to the 5, but with less than a minute, Walnut Grove elected to take a knee, 2 points shy of tying its most points ever scored.
The Warriors (3-3 overall, 2-1 region) will be back home next week against Clarke Central.
Johnson (0-6, 0-3) will look for its first win at Jackson County.