Eagles get No. 3 seed with shutout win

Published 12:26 am Saturday, October 24, 2009

THOMASTON — A.L. Johnson wanted to leave no room for doubt in its quest to claim a playoff berth, scoring 22 points in the first 9:01 of the game en route to a 28-0 win over Class 1A Region 3 rival Sunshine on Friday.

The win, coupled with Holy Spirit’s loss to Maplesville on Friday, gave the Eagles (5-4 overall, 5-3 1A Region 3) the No. 3 seed in the region. A.L. Johnson will open the Class 1A playoffs on Nov. 6 at Winterboro (6-3, 6-1 1A Region 4).

Despite jumping out to a 22-point lead so early, the Eagles were held scoreless over the next 34:28 by Sunshine (0-9, 0-8 1A Region 3). However, it was the Eagle defense that not only put the first points on the scoreboard, but shut the Tigers out.

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Just 1:43 into the game, A.L. Johnson tackled the SHS quarterback in the end zone, taking a quick 2-0 lead on the safety.

On its ensuing drive, the Eagles marched the ball down the field, capping the 58-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run by Richard McGhee. The two-point conversion failed, but A.L. Johnson had an 8-0 lead with 6:20 left in the first quarter.

On the first play from scrimmage, Sunshine quarterback Thronzo Ward threw an interception to ALJ’s Ronzell Henton, who returned the ball to the Tiger 26. On the next play, McGhee found Thelbert Staten on a 26-yard pass for another Eagle score. Demetrius Davis’s two-point conversion run gave A.L. Johnson a 16-0 lead with 5:56 left in the first period.

On Sunshine’s next drive, the punt was blocked by ALJ’s Demarcus Woods. Henton scooped the ball up and ran 44 yards before being tackled at the SHS 1-yard line. Two plays later, McGhee pushed the ball over the line for another TD. The two-point conversion failed, but the Eagle lead was 22-0 with 2:59 left in the first quarter.

That’s where the score would remain until Kejuan McGhee took it through the line on a one-yard push for a touchdown with 4:29 remaining in the game. The conversion failed, but ALJ took the 28-0 win.

“That first eight minutes was rough,” said Sunshine head coach Jonathan Jenkins. “We’re still growing. (A.L. Johnson) has a fine team. That got a playoff berth tonight, and they deserve it. They started out in a hole early in the season and pulled themselves out of it.

“We got to see tonight a lot of what we’re going to have next year. We played a lot of the younger guys tonight and saw that they had a lot of spunk.”

A.L. Johnson head coach Mose Jones punched his 13th ticket into the playoffs in his 16-year tenure with the Eagles.

“We just wanted to come out real early and smash them in the mouth,” he said. “We are blessed to be in the playoffs. We’re glad to be there and looking forward to playing that first game. It doesn’t matter where we go; we’re just glad to be in the playoffs.”

A.L. Johnson completes its regular-season schedule on Friday at Marengo (3-5), while Sunshine closes out its season at home against Greensboro.