Johnson, Lynch lead JT
Jim Thorpe's Khaaliq Lynch (19) runs with the ball after catching a pass in the second quarter against Schuylkill Haven. Coming toward him is the Hurricane's Brandon Cooper (40).
Apparently the message got through loud and clear to Jim Thorpe's P.J. Johnson.
It was midway through the first quarter, Jim Thorpe's offense was sputtering like a Model T with bad plugs, when one of the coaches screamed at Johnson, "Make something happen."
Moments later, he made a 49-yard pass play happen, then scored the team's first touchdown on a two-yard run. He was the team's top rusher. In the final minute of the game, he made a leap over an opposing player four inches taller than he is and amazingly pulled in an interception that preserved his team's 30-28 victory over Schuylkill Haven.
"That was the biggest reception of his career," said Jim Thorpe coach Mark Rosenberger of the interception.
There were numerous heroes besides Johnson who propelled the Olympians' to their first win of the season.
Sophomore wide receiver Khaaliq Lynch had three touchdown receptions, one on an 80 yard play, another which covered 51 yards of turf, and the third a 19-yard catch. He accounted for 183 of his team's 232 passing yardage.
Tackle Tyler Crandall made a fumble recovery that set up Jim Thorpe's first touchdown and also had seven tackles. Alex Pope led the Olympians' defense with 11 tackles.
The win was the first for the season for the Olympians.
Thorpe made some big plays defensively to keep the game scoreless early on as Lynch and Crandall both recovered fumbles.
On the first play following the Crandall recovery, quarterback Patrick Duvigneaud connected with Johnson for a 47-yard gain all the way down to the Haven two-yard line. Johnson then took a handoff and raced around the right side to put the Olympians in the lead. A Duvigneaud to Mike Harleston conversion pass made it 8-0.
Two-and-a-half minutes later, Thorpe got possession on downs on its 20. On the first play from scrimmage, Duvigneaud fired the ball down the middle of the field to Lynch, who easily won a race with the Haven defenders to the goal line.
It was late in the half when the visitors finally put points up. Brandon Cooper intercepted a pass at the Olympian 34 and returned it to the 19. Three plays later, William Casella plowed through left guard from the five. The ensuing placement made it 14-7.
A big Duvigneaud to Lynch pass play late in the third period increased Jim Thorpe's lead. It was a 19 yard pass that Lynch pulled in on the one and merely stepped across the white stripe for the score with 3:34 left in the period. It was set up by an earlier 20 yard Duvigneaud to Lynch combination, a play that saw the receiver use a phenominal second effort to make the catch. Duvigneaud ran for the conversion following the TD to make it 24-7.
Schuylkill Haven scored three times in the fourth. In between, Duvigneaud found Lynch for a 49 yard touchdown.
The Hurricanes got their final score with 2:26 to play.
After four plays, the Olympians were forced to punt and Haven got one more chance, staring on their own 22 with 49 seconds.
There was a long pass tossed to the midfield mark to 6-1 sophomore Alec Bailey that was right on target. Bailey was ready to pull in the reception at the sideline and step out of bounds, but Johnson ruined things for him. Johnson came behind him, jumped high, reached in front, and grabbed the ball like an eagle catching prey in mid-air, thus ending the game.