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Johnson runs wild as Wildcats pound Patriots

Published 11:32pm Friday, November 1, 2013

Benjamin Russell coach Danny Horn said that the Wildcats wanted to make a statement versus Homewood.

After a 28-7 victory over the Class 5A, No. 4 ranked Patriots, Benjamin Russell may be heard loud and clear.

“I knew we had a pretty good team before the game started,” D. Horn said. “Homewood’s got a good team, too. If we keep winning, and they keep winning, we’ll see them again.”

The Wildcats were able to down the Patriots with a taste of Homewood’s own medicine – running the ball effectively.

“Coming into the game, I felt like we had the better passing attack, and they had the better running attack,” D. Horn said. “But this game kind of showed the reverse effect. I thought we ran the ball very well.”

Homewood – which came into the game averaging 276 rushing yards per contest – was only able to chalk up 145 rushing yards on the night. Meanwhile, BRHS runningback LaBrenikin Johnson sliced through the Patriots defense, chewing up 121 of the Wildcats’ 200 rushing yards on the night.

The senior runner also scored every single BRHS touchdown. Johnson said the Wildcats’ play was motivated by pride.

“They’ve beaten us for the last five years,” Johnson said. “We wanted to come out and show them who the better team was. I give a lot of credit to our offensive line. Without them, we wouldn’t have had anything.”

BRHS was also able to take advantage of the Patriots’ self-inflicted wounds. Homewood amassed 15 penalties which cost the team 144 yards, and the Wildcats were able to intercept Patriots quarterback Carson Griffis three times.

“You can’t beat a good team with that many penalties and three turnovers,” said Homewood coach Doug Goodwin. “Now, we have to go back to work.”

Patriots’ star running back Walter Rutledge scored the first touchdown of the night, bouncing off Wildcat defenders for a 9-yard run with 2:02 left in the first. However, that would be just about all that BRHS would hear from the senior.

“He got nicked up there, and he wasn’t able to run very effectively,” Goodwin said.

BRHS immediately answered the Patriots’ scoring drive as Bookie Ford set the Wildcats up in enemy territory with a 43-yard kick return.

Johnson scored the first of his four touchdowns – this one from 17 yards out – two plays later.

Early in the second, the Patriots were called for a kick catch interference, setting the Wildcats up at their own 41-yard line. Eight plays later, Johnson found paydirt.

Homewood threatened late in the second, but a Griffis pass sailed high, and BRHS’ Eric Varner picked it off inside the Wildcats’ 10-yard line. BRHS went into the half up 14-7.

Homewood couldn’t do much with the opening drive of the second half, but began to show life when Nick Baskin picked off BRHS quarterback Bryant Horn, setting up the Patriots at their 42-yard line.

Horn would get it back himself, as he snagged a Griffis pass on the next drive and returned it to midfield.

The Wildcats used their rushing attack to capitalize, and Johnson swept around the left end for a 3-yard touchdown to put BRHS up by three scores.

On Homewood’s last gasp, Wildcats’ safety Tyrik “Pac-man” Norris jumped a slant route and wrestled the ball away for Griffis’ third pick on the night.

“They ended our undefeated season last year,” Norris said. “We came out with our heads on and played hard and physical for four quarters. They may be bigger than us, but we brough it to them for four quarters.”

Johnson capped the scoring on the ensuing 10-play drive.

“I thought LaBrenikin ran well, but I want to congratulate the offensive line,” D. Horn said. “They played about as well as they have all year long. We came into this game wanting to stop the run, and we did a good job of it, not a great job, but a good job of that.”

Griffis was 9-of-14 for 94 yards. Devonta Barnfield led the Patriots with 63 rushing yards.

BRHS now looks to the postseason, where it hosts Chilton County  next week. Homewood will host Russell County in first-round playoff action.

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