394 big ones: Johnson helps Indians turn tide on Pirates

Published 12:06 am Saturday, October 8, 2016

PORT NECHES — One first-place game down, another to go.

Port Neches-Groves scored 28 unanswered points in coming from their largest deficit of the season to beat Vidor 41-22 Friday night and remain unbeaten on the season.

The Indians can give much thanks to sophomore Roschon Johnson, who threw for three touchdowns and rushed for two more while accounting for 394 total yards. Johnson completed 11 of 16 passes for 241 yards and ran 16 times for 153 more.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Senior Keynel McZeal brought down five of the tosses for 92 yards and two scores.

“[Johnson has] become a great leader,” said McZeal, the Texas A&M commit who had a long of 58 yards for his second score early in the fourth quarter. “Before the season, when we first knew he was going to be our quarterback, he was asking everybody to come to the field, and then at the end of the summer he was telling everybody to come to the field. Everybody listened to him and everybody looked up to him as a leader.”

The prize for PNG (6-0, 4-0 in 22-5A): Another first-place game at Port Arthur Memorial next Friday. The Titans (5-0, 4-0) beat Lumberton 27-7 on the road Friday.

“A great program,” PNG coach Brandon Faircloth said, asked what comes to mind first about Memorial. “Great athletes and a great football team. They’ve got speed and they’re big, so it’s going to be a big test for us.”

Said McZeal: “We can enjoy tonight, but we’ve got to start working next week. We’ve got another big game.”

A successful onside kick Jacob Vaughan recovered at the Vidor 44 to open the second half gave PNG added momentum, trailing 22-20. Preston Hughes rushed from 10 yards out to give the Indians their first lead at 27-22.

Just before the break, PNG was down 22-13 and was nearly victimized on Vidor’s onside attempt. An illegal touching call against the Pirates wiped out their recovery, and Johnson hit running back Noah Graham for completions of 36 and 13 yards to pull the Indians to within two.

PNG decided to unleash its own trickery at halftime.

“We hadn’t stopped [Vidor] yet,” Faircloth said. “We were just trying to create some momentum after the half,” Faircloth said. “We had just scored right before the half. We really thought it’d be a good time to do it before the half, but we didn’t.”

The Pirates, who scored on all but one first-half possession, were forced to punt twice and lost the ball on downs on another drive of the second half. PNG held Vidor to 85 second-half yards, all on the ground, after allowing 213 rushing in the first 24 minutes.

Johnson helped the Indians capitalize, using a nice cutback to the infield on a 54-yard touchdown sprint and finding McZeal wide-open on the 58-yarder.
PNG outgained Vidor 431-312 in total yards.
ohnson completed a 3-yard TD jump pass to McZeal on the game’s opening drive. It was tied four plays from scrimmage later when Haylon Leckelt sprinted 65 yards on a misdirection play.
Vidor quarterback Maverick Quirante and Johnson traded rushing scores later in the first, but Vidor blocked an extra-point attempt.

Quirante rushed 3 yards for a TD and added a two-point conversion to put Vidor up by nine. He had 142 yards on 21 carries and attempted three passes, completing one for 14 yards to Kolbie Humble.

Leckelt had 126 yards on 15 carries.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

email author More by I.C.