Nate Johnson made a transition from the beginning of the season to now. Johnson, a senior running back at Maiden, was used primarily for his speed at the beginning of the season compared to quarterback Matt Johnson’s power.
That role changed as the season went on, and it showed Friday night at Maiden against the Bunker Hill Bears.
“At first, I was just a speed back when they needed to use me in the backfield,” Nate Johnson said. “Over the weeks and weeks, I’ve been more of the power back running the football more as we are getting ready for the playoffs.”
Johnson carried the ball a team-high 19 times for 110 yards and a touchdown in the Blue Devils’ 41-13 homecoming win over the Bears.
“At the beginning of the season, we didn’t know Nate could be a full-time running back,” Maiden head coach Brian Brown said. “He gives us versatility.”
Maiden is 4-2 in conference play, and the win Friday gives it a two-game lead over Bunker Hill in the race for third place in the Catawba Valley 2-A. Bunker Hill dropped to 2-4 in
conference play. The Blue Devils entered the game tied for third with Draughn, which lost Friday to West Caldwell.
The Blue Devils showed versatility on offense Friday against the Bears. Nate Johnson carried the load, but senior quarterback Matt Johnson led Maiden on the ground and in the air. Johnson ran for a team-high 139 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. He combined for more than 100 yards on his first and last carries of the game.
Johnson’s first run went for 59 yards and set up his first touchdown of the night for a 7-0 lead. His last run was a 58-yard touchdown run giving Maiden a 28-0 lead 4 minutes 5 seconds into the second half.
Maiden scored on its first three drives of the game for a 21-0 lead. Johnson ran for a touchdown and passed for two, to receivers Hasan Hopper and Alex Lomax, in the first quarter.
“He is head and shoulders the best in the league,” Bunker Hill head coach Travis Conner said. “Nobody is even close to him.”
Maiden’s quarterback ended the game 6-of-12 passing for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Hopper caught two passes for 81 yards, and Lomax caught three passes for 47 yards.
Johnson’s second touchdown run and a 34-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Will Jenkins made it 34-0. Bunker Hill scored its first touchdown on a 2-yard run by quarterback Joe Litton, and Nate Johnson got his only touchdown with 11:55 left in the game on a 5-yard run up the middle. Bunker Hill running back Davontaye Wilson scored a touchdown late in the game for the final 28-point deficit.
The Blue Devils’ defense shut down the Bears’ running attack in the first half. Running backs Reggie Davis, Wilson and Justin Lynch combined for 67 yards rushing in the first half. Brown said Maiden’s defense Friday night did “a good job.”
“I don’t mean any disrespect, but that is the best-coached team we’ve played all year,” Conner said. “Whoever their offensive and defensive coaches are, they did a good job.”
Lynch ran for a team-high 113 yards — 107 in the second half — and no touchdowns on 14 attempts. Davis ran for 93 yards, and Wilson was limited to 20 and a touchdown.