PLYMOUTH — For the last handful of years, Plymouth South fans have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Casious Johnson era.
After the events of Friday night, you could very well say it has begun. In crunch time, the Panthers turned to their workhorse back, and he delivered a historic performance. The sophomore racked up 40 carries for a whopping 339 yards and six touchdowns, including the game-clinching score with 48.2 seconds remaining as Plymouth South survived in a 42-35 shootout with Patriot League rival Hanover.
“It feels good,” Johnson said. “We played until the end, and it doesn’t get (any) better.”
The two programs traded blows the entire first half.
After Johnson gave Plymouth South a 21-14 edge in the final minute of the first half with a 9-yard touchdown scamper, Hanover answered. Michael Landolfi connected with Nicholas Freel for a 12-yard touchdown pass as time expired, then Robert Barrett connected on the extra point.
The second half was no different. Hanover would take its first lead of the night with 6:25 to play in the third quarter, as Landolfi lofted a pass toward the end zone for Quinlan, who leaped over a corner to haul in a 21-yard touchdown, providing the Hawks a 28-21 lead.
That was when the Panthers decided to get creative, as they switched to a wildcat formation, with Johnson leading the charge. The sophomore guided his team downfield, then capped the drive with a 14-yard score, as Plymouth South drew even at 28-28 with just under two minutes to go.
With his squad trailing by a touchdown to start the fourth quarter, Johnson guided the Panthers into the red zone once again, then punched in a 3-yard touchdown scamper, tying the game at 35-35 with 10:53 remaining in regulation.
Facing a 4th-and-1 situation from Plymouth South’s 31-yard line with 6:00 left in the game, Hanover decided to go for it, as Landolfi sprinted up the middle on a quarterback keeper. However, the junior was stripped of the ball, and the Panthers recovered.
Later, facing 4th-and-5, Plymouth South coach Darren Fruzzetti decided to take a risk, and kept the offense out, even on the Panthers’ side of midfield. Immediately, Johnson took the carry, then went to his right. A wall of tacklers awaited him, so he reversed course then sprinted to the opposite sideline, cut upfield, then barely managed to gain the first down to keep Plymouth South’s hopes alive.
“To be honest, I just go where the green is,” Johnson said. “Wherever the green is, I go. I didn’t see anything on this side, so I reversed it, went to the other side.”
Shortly thereafter, Johnson would break off a 50-yard run, setting up Plymouth South with a chance to win it.
“I wanted to put the ball in our best player’s hands and let him make a play,” Fruzzetti said. “And boy, did he ever.”
As the final seconds ticked away, Johnson would put a bow on his incredible effort, as he scored his sixth touchdown of the night with a 2-yard rush, as the Panthers took a 42-35 lead.
Patrick Murphy would seal the victory for Plymouth South, as he picked off Landolfi with 8.3 seconds to play. When the teams finished their handshakes, fans in attendance stormed the field in celebration.
“Usually (Scott Fry) doesn’t let them out here,” Johnson chuckled. “Got pretty hyped.”
High School Sports, Sports, High School Football