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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: ‘Respect’ is prize in Foxes’ victory


King George’s Markiece Johnson loses control of the ball as James Monroe’s Deonta Nelson (right) strips it. Johnson rebounded to score the winning touchdown.

King George senior Markiece Johnson said his teammates had heard the talk—over social media and online message boards—all week.

No way could the Foxes come to Maury Stadium and beat James Monroe, Johnson said, relaying the predictions he had seen online. King George breaking an 11-game losing streak against the Jackets?

Not possible.

But as the final seconds ticked off the clock Monday night, Johnson glanced at the scoreboard and saw the Foxes’ 21–16 victory become reality, and the only sound he heard was King George’s players and fans cheering a momentous Battlefield District victory.

“We did what we had to do,” Johnson said, “to show everyone in the Battlefield we’re not someone you can just play around with.”

It was Johnson who swept around left tackle for the game-winning touchdown with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, but it was a team effort to reach that point.

The Foxes’ single-wing offense ground out second-half touchdown drives of 15 and 14 plays to rally from a 16–7 third-quarter deficit.

“We could see it as we were driving down the field,” King George coach Jeff Smith said. “Left to right, we kept wearing them down. They didn’t know where the ball was coming. We just kept wearing them down.”

James Monroe’s first three drives of the game stalled, resulting in a pair of field goals by David Dit, and the Foxes answered with a 57-yard scoring run by Antonio Johnson that gave King George a 7–6 lead midway through the second quarter.

Dit then kicked a 41-yard field goal—the longest in the area this season and the 10th in 2013 for the senior—and James Monroe took a 9–7 lead into the locker room.

And on JM’s first possession of the third quarter, Jay Scroggins hit Jamal Bevels on a perfectly thrown 25-yard fade rout for a 16–7 advantage.

But that was it for James Monroe, and King George was just heating up.

Six different King George players had carries on a 15-play, 68-yard drive that took 6 minutes, 36 seconds and ended with Corey Henderson’s 2-yard fourth-down touchdown run off right tackle with 2:07 left in the third quarter.

The Foxes then held James Monroe to a three-and-out, and looked liked they were driving to take the lead.

An eight-play drive, though, ended at the Jackets’ 2 when Henderson fumbled and James Monroe recovered with 10:14 to play.

The Jackets had two more possessions before the Foxes’ game-winning drive, but the first was stalled by a sack from Antonio Johnson, and the second by penalties that nullified apparent first-down runs.

James Monroe had 14 penalties in the game for 109 yards, to just five for King George.

The Foxes got the ball back with 3:13 to play at the James Monroe 32.

Again, they used a variety of backs picking up yardage in 3-, 4- and 5-yard chunks to march down the field.

“We felt like every time we were running it, they were losing confidence and they were just getting tired,” King George center Daniel Habron said.

With less than 20 seconds to play and one timeout remaining on a second-and-7 from the JM 11, Smith hoped to set up a field goal for Jacob Perkins. The Foxes’ kicker already booted last-second game-winners against Stafford and Louisa this season.

Instead, Markiece Johnson swept around left tackle and bolted into the end zone, sparking King George’s celebration.

Excluding the 2009 James Monroe 50–0 win the Jackets later forfeited for using an ineligible player, King George hadn’t beaten JM since 2001, and was just 7–28 against the Jackets all time.

So for Smith, it was hard to overstate the importance of this victory.

“This one?” Smith said, without a moment of thought. “This is the biggest win of my career.

“We have a darn good football team, too. We have to continue to play and hopefully this game will show King George has to be respected.”

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045