JOHNSTON CITY -- Its identity is rooted in running the ball and being more physical than its opponents, and Johnston City lived up to it Saturday in a 49-14 Black Diamond Conference rout of winless Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton.

In improving to 5-1 overall and in the conference, the Indians rushed for 346 yards on 36 carries, getting 130 yards and three touchdowns on only six attempts from versatile senior Nico Gualdoni.

But veteran coach Dan Mings, who felt his offense came up short in a loss last week at unbeaten Chester, also used the game to experiment with different formations and open up his attack.

"People have been putting eight or nine men in the box against us," he said. "We have to change that. You self-scout a little bit. We tried three different offenses today and I was happy with how the kids picked it up."

Johnston City ran a no-huddle attack, speeding its pace at times, and also flashed some spread formations. Quarterback Alec Blades completed all six of his passes for 134 yards and two scores.

Senior tight end Trent Johnson made an acrobatic 21-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter for a 49-6 lead that instituted a running clock for the game's remainder. Johnson finished with three catches for 85 yards.

"We didn't need a 25-second clock today," Mings said. "I thought we played fast and didn't make many mistakes."

The Indians scored on their first seven possessions and picked up 20 first downs on just 43 plays. They were headed for an eighth touchdown near game's end, but Mings had them take two knees after reaching the Bearcats' 11-yard line in the last minute.

C-Z-R (0-6, 0-5) moved the ball well at times, as quarterback Isaac McPhail connected on 15 of 24 passes for 189 yards and two scores. Running back Hunter Wheeler hauled in both touchdown tosses, bagging nine receptions for 112 yards on the day.

"Our line did a good job protecting Isaac and he can throw a pretty ball when he has time," Bearcats coach Josh McCurren said.

Johnston City needs just one win to secure a Class 2A playoff spot, but its schedule is definitely daunting. It closes with Breese Mater Dei, unbeaten Eldorado and Fairfield, although all three are at Davison Field.

Those opponents are a combined 14-4, a far cry from the 10-26 mark of the Indians' first six foes.

"If we're fortunate enough to make the playoffs," Mings said, "we'll definitely be battle-hardened after that stretch."

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