Queen Creek’s Johnson Rushes for Three Touchdowns in Return

2 years ago Andrew Luberda 0

Just weeks before the start of the 2016 season then-junior running back Trey Johnson informed Queen Creek football coaches that he had a change of heart and did not want to play football any longer. As spring practice approached earlier this year Johnson experienced another change of heart, asking his coaches and teammates if he could return to the team.

Johnson’s 203-yard, three touchdown performance on Friday night, including a 56-yard scoring run on his first carry since 2015, in the Bulldogs’ season-opening 27 – 21 win against Cesar Chavez confirmed the right decision by all involved.

“It felt really nice, especially coming back from a year not playing,” Johnson told CountyLinePreps.com after the game. “I was excited to get out here and play with my old teammates.”

Trey Johnson (32) had a big night in his first game in nearly two years.

As it turned out, the Bulldogs needed each one of Johnson’s three touchdowns to hold off a feisty Cesar Chavez team.

A Queen Creek turnover on its opening drive of the season allowed the Champions to strike first as quarterback Chris Russell converted a short fourth down play before later scoring to take a 7 – 0 lead.

Johnson entered the game with 3:03 left in the first quarter and on the second play of the series he dashed 56 yards for a touchdown. Senior place-kicker Jacori Wooten’s PAT was good, tying the game.

Queen Creek took the lead in the second quarter following a 30-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Devin Larsen to senior wide receiver Garrett Duke and Wooten’s PAT.

The Bulldogs headed to the locker room with a 14 – 7 lead at halftime.

After a scoreless third quarter, the teams combined for four touchdowns and 27 points in the final quarter, beginning with a Chris Russell touchdown pass. The ensuing PAT was blocked by Bulldogs’ senior linebacker Dante Coleman, who was presented a plaque in honor of his late father by members of the Arizona Department of Corrections before the game.

“My coach trusts me enough to go in there and block the (PAT),” Coleman said. “He told me everyone who has (played) my position has blocked a kick. So I had to step up and do it.”

The Bulldogs responded, scoring 13 unanswered points on a pair of Johnson touchdown runs, including a spectacular 37-yard run that increased the lead to 21 – 13 following Wooten’s third PAT of the game.

Johnson later added his third scoring run, a 24-yard sprint around the outside of the Champions’ defense.

The Bulldogs totaled 244 rushing yards on Friday night, including 39 yards from junior Dylan Borja. The running back tandem might prove to be too much for most teams this season.

“It’s great to have both of those guys,” Queen Creek fifth-year head coach Travis Schureman said. “They each bring different dynamics to the game.

“Trey is going to have games where he goes off and Dylan is going to have his games.”

Chavez would tally a late touchdown to account for the final scoring margin.

Afterwards, Schureman was not pleased with his team’s late-game performance, excluding Johnson’s.

“We have to play better in the fourth quarter,” he said. “The truth-of-the-matter is, when we’re up (13) with two-and-a-half to three minutes we can’t give up a touchdown in 30 seconds.”

The Bulldogs didn’t play their cleanest game, evidenced by four first-half fumbles, two that were recovered by Cesar Chavez. Additionally, the Bulldogs had a field goal attempt blocked and a missed  PAT. Still, there is some solace in winning the season opener despite less than their best.

“We left a lot of points on the field tonight, just playing the game kind of sloppy,” Schureman said. “Those are things we need to fix moving forward.

“The good thing is our kids never panicked,” he continued. “They were calm, collected and I never felt like we were in deep trouble. We weren’t executing things we needed to.”

As is the case annually, every team in the state has a number of players competing for the first time under the Friday night lights, which is the cause of anxiety for some.

“We had a lot of juniors playing tonight,” Schureman said. “So, we can expect a little bit of nerves for the first time on a Friday night.”

Their second time might be the cause of more anxiety as 6A-powerhouse Hamilton awaits the Bulldogs’ visit next Friday.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.