You could say Matt Johnson had the “Midas Touch” on Friday.
The senior quarterback, ran for three touchdowns on three runs in Friday’s game, making his last regular-season home game at Maiden High School a memorable one.
Johnson, along with teammate Will Jenkins, helped the Blue Devils pull ahead 27-0 in the first half and never looked back, earning a 48-7 conference victory over the visiting East Burke Cavaliers.
“Right now, it’s Matt and Will,” said Maiden coach Brian Brown. “Until someone takes it away, we are going to keep giving it those guys. They’ve been great kids and great leaders for us. They’ve really been outstanding people in our community, as well as on the football field. It was nice for those guys.”
The Blue Devils (5-4, 4-1) wasted little time on their opening drive of the first half, traveled 64 yards in 49 seconds, capping the drive with a 38-yard scoring run by Johnson.
“We like to start fast,” Brown said. “Sometimes, you talk about it, and it doesn’t happen. That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen. It happened tonight.”
East Burke (4-5, 2-3) put together a promising drive, converting a third and fourth down, but a second attempt at converting at fourth down and five yards deep in Maiden territory was snuffed out, giving the Blue Devils the ball.
Johnson was once again impressive on the drive, converting a 20-yard pass to Austin Wright for a first down and running for his second touchdown on his second run of the game. He scampered 48 yards for the score and in the process, surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career.
“It’s not me when I’m out there. It’s my offensive line that kept them on their heels,” Johnson said. “All I have to do is make one or two cuts and its a foot race. One thing I worked on all summer was getting faster. My line makes me look good. It’s not so much me as it is them executing perfectly tonight. It was fun.”
Johnson displayed his throwing accuracy on the next Maiden drive. He completed passes to Richard Kerekes, Jose Campos and Will Jenkins for a total of 32 yards to move the ball into Cavalier territory.
Running back Will Jenkins finished off the drive, which carried over into the second quarter. He rushed three times in the drive for 27 yards and a touchdown to put the homestanding Blue Devils up 20-0 with 11:56 remaining in the first half. Jenkins rushed five times for 82 yards in the first half.
After holding starting Cavs tailback Robbie McGee to one or less yards in the three runs prior, he exploded for an 11-yard run, but fumbled the ball before he fell to the ground. The Blue Devils fell on top of the pigskin to give them great field position.
For his third-straight run, Johnson broke free for a touchdown on the Blue Devils’ possession, this time from 12 yards out.
McGee helped end the Cavalier scoreless draught, rushing six times for 36 yards during the East Burke’ fourth drive of the game. His 6-yard touchdown run put East Burke on the scoreboard, but the Blue Devils quickly answered.
“We told the guys we couldn’t get tired of hitting No. 42,” Brown said of McGee. “He’s a load. I think they are pretty good up front. They come off of the ball really well and got into us. We tried to give them every look we could give them to get different people in different spots. He’s a good player.”
Making it 5-for-5 on scoring drives in the first half for Maiden, Johnson connected twice on passes of over 20 yards, including a 21-yard pass to Dustin Hipps and 30-yard bomb into the left side of the end zone to Austin Wright for the touchdown.
“I thought we were able to throw it a little bit more tonight,” Brown said. “We tried to mix it up a little bit with the run, too. That was good to see. We had some other guys get the ball, too, which sometimes, we need to do that.”
After taking back possession of the ball, Maiden scored for the sixth time in six tries in the game. Jenkins rushed five times for 36 yards during the drive, adding his second touchdown on a 5-yard run on the final play.
Jenkins finished the game with 118 yards on 10 carries and two rushing scores.
“We wanted to come out and get a big win on Senior night,” Jenkins said. “Our line blocked great and gave us some great holes to run through.”
Maiden added one final score, a two-yard touchdown by Grant Yowe, before the final horn sounded, signaling the Senior Night victory.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Johnson said. “I can’t believe it’s the last time I play in this stadium. I knew coming into the game that the seniors weren’t going to hold anything back. You have to win on Senior Night. I was really proud of the offensive line. They just allowed me and Will to do what we do best. It was a pretty easy night because they had defense on skates and we just got to run.”
The Blue Devils travel to Bunker Hill next week. The Bears ended a three-game losing streak with a 21-18 victory over West Caldwell.
Brown stressed that his team’s final two weeks will ultimately determine their playoff fate.
“As much as beating Bandys and Newton-Conover were excited games and good wins for us, they don’t mean anything right now,” Brown said. “We told them that it’s a two-game season. We’re 0-0 and we have to win two games. It’s going to be a difficult challenge with two tough games against Bunker Hill and Draughn. We’re just taking it one game at a time. That’s our mindset.”