Darryl Johnson carries Comets to a season-opener win

James Nosek | Staff Writer

Being the number one running back in the GMC is a tough goal to accomplish for Mason junior running back, Darryl Johnson but after his four touchdowns and 194 yards rushing against Springboro to open the season; his claim gained more credibility.

With Johnson stepping up, the Comets won a high scoring (66 combined points) and fast paced battle against the Springboro Panthers, 38-28 in a packed Springboro Careflight Field.

Johnson said that the success in the first game of the season and the season following David Fulcher, 2010 graduate and Ohio University bound running back, was not anticipated. Fulcher rushed for 1600 yards and 24 touchdowns in his high school career. Last year in his 2010 campaign, he rushed for 1290 of the 1600 yards and 21 of the 24 touchdowns.

“No I didn’t expect [to have this kind of game but] I expected to do great things just like our team,” Johnson said. “[Replacing Fulcher], it was big shoes to fill but I just trusted my linemen and ran the ball hard, that’s all I can do.”

Mason head coach Brain Castner said that this was a huge win mostly because Springboro is a tough team and there are a lot of similarities between both programs.

“First thing is first, Springboro is a pretty darn good team, they are going to win a lot of games this year so we just beat a [possible] 8-2 or 7-3 team in week one,” Castner said. “[These] two teams of similar traits and offenses [are] mirror types of each other.”

He also said that his team’s hard work would pay off at some time—and it did.

“These kids deserve this,” Castner said. “They have been working their butt off and they deserve to get off to a 1-0 start.”

The game got off to a quick start when Mason’s opening drive and the first drive of the game, consisting of three first downs, set up a 10-yard touchdown pass. Mason senior quarter back JD Sprague threw a perfectly timed button hook to senior wide receiver Kevin Niehoff to make it 7-0.

After a third down sack late in the first quarter by senior linebacker Josh Dooley, Springboro was forced to punt on their first possession. The Comets capitalized driving down the field to the five-yard line when junior running back Darryl Johnson broke a hole in the left side for the touchdown, one of his four on the night.

Castner said that the early 14-0 lead helped establish the team for the rest of the game.

“We set the tone in the beginning of the game and we got what we deserved,” Castner said.

The Comets had a 20-7 lead after half time until Springboro wide receiver, Jake Johnson busted out a 44-yard run to make it a six point game.

Both Mason and Springboro would trade touchdowns three more times to the six minute mark in the fourth quarter. The Comets would obtain the ball after the Panthers scored on a 53-yard run by running back Jalen Cambell and the score turned into a seven point advantage for the Comets, 35-28.

They would be faced with a 3rd and 9 with about 5:19 left to play, but after fighting off rushing Springboro defenders in the back field and making a juke to the right passing a defensive back in the open field, Sprague was tackled at the 49-yard line for the first down.

Castner said the run by Sprague a “big play” in the game and almost a momentum changer. This would set up a 36-yard field goal by Marcus Otte to finalize the score and the game, 38-28.

Although giving up 28 points is not what a coach wants, Castner said allowing four touchdowns against a good team like Springboro can be improved on one week at a time.

“We will watch film and be coachable. We will make sure we respond to our big plays,” Castner said. “If you look at 28 points, we start getting better and next week we’ll get it to 21 [points] and then 17.”