SESSER — Junior quarterback Austin Brown rushed for 109 yards and passed for a touchdown to lead Johnston City to a 38-14 road win over Sesser-Valier Saturday in the Black Diamond Conference.
With the win, the Indians improve to 3-0 on the season and will host Carmi-White County in Week 4. The Red Devils fall to 1-2 and will travel to Chester Friday.
Brown carried the pigskin six times in all, which included a 66-yard TD jaunt to go along with a 35-yard run. He also completed 3-of-7 passes with a 4-yard scoring strike.
"It's another great win for us," said Brown. "We watched a lot of film and practiced really hard this week, so it feels good to get rewarded."
Brown said the team's success starts up front with a massive offensive line that opens up holes for the backs.
As for his ability to break games open with his athletic ability, Brown didn't mince words.
"I'm somewhat fast and have some pretty good weight behind me. I can either run past you or go through you. I guess you could say I'm versatile in that way."
Already highly recruited by multiple colleges, Brown said his focus is on winning games for the Indians this spring.
"We only have six games, so all we can do is try to win a conference title. We want to win as many games for our seniors as possible. We want to send them away with some good memories."
Red Devils coach John Shadowens described Brown as "a good athlete" who has helped transform the Indians into the most improved football program in the league this year.
"I have to give coach (Todd) Thomas a lot of credit. They are well prepared and are playing very well."
Shadowens said that his ballclub simply isn't as talented as Johnston City. And it didn't help to whiff on an opportunity to score early in the first period after the Indians fumbled the ball on the first play from scrimmage.
"That pretty much set the tone," he said of the missed opportunity. "I think we had two penalties on that first drive, an illegal motion and hold. They're a better team than us, but if we had punched one in on that first drive, it might have given us a chance."
Shadowens added that his ballclub did not quit fighting even after it fell behind 38-0.
"Defensively, there were times we played pretty well. Offensively, we moved the ball, but just couldn't finish drives. We'll get better."
JC's Thomas said his team looked a bit "lethargic" in the early going, but righted the ship by the second period.
"Today was the first time we had played on a Saturday this season and the first time we hadn't played on turf. It was a bit of an adjustment for the kids, but once we got going, we played well."
Thomas said he has been especially impressed with his team's defense the first three weeks.
"I think the kids are working hard and getting better. We just have to stay physical. Offensively, we have yet to get on track 100 percent, but we are making progress. We have backs that can stick it in their hard and others that can run around people. It's a nice mix to have."
Thomas added that he may start turning Brown loose with his passing game.
"It was a little too risky today because of the wind, but that may change soon."
Not to be overlooked Saturday was the performance of two JC running backs not named Brown. Sophomore Isaiah Watson galloped for 102 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns and senior Sam Harris tacked on 59 yards on nine attempts with a score.
Sesser-Valier was held scoreless through the first three periods.
The Red Devils had a golden opportunity to score first when the Indians fumbled the football on their first play from scrimmage and Sesser-Valier recovered at the JC 38. The best the host team could do, however, was to advance the ball to the 26 before turning it over on downs.
After each team punted on its next possession, the Indians got on the scoreboard with 9:55 to go in the second period as Harris scored from 6 yards out. A two-point conversion pass from Brown to Jordan Wininger upped the lead to 8-0.
One possession later, the Indians were again in business as Brown sprinted to his right and outran defenders en route to a 66-yard score. The conversion run failed and the score remained 14-0 with 4:12 left in the second period. There would be no further scoring in the half.
After JC senior Caleb Newell intercepted a pass from S-V sophomore quarterback Carson Hoffard, the Indians got a 35-yard run by Brown and eventually scored on a 4-yard pass from Brown to Wininger at the 8:01 mark of the third period. The two-point run by Brown was good for a 22-0 advantage.
A second interception by Newell set up the next Indians' score as Watson reached paydirt from 35 yards out. Brown again added the two-point conversion to make the score 30-0.
With 11:19 to play in the fourth and final period, Watson broke free and scored from 37 yards out. Zander Saylor caught the two-point conversion pass from Brown to make the score 38-0. The score was set up by a third interception, this one by LaVell Neal.
Sesser-Valier finally got on the board with a nifty 60-yard run by senior Jaden Lance. The senior proved to be quite the workhorse, toting the ball 27 times in all to match his uniform number and gained 140 yards. The two-point conversion run failed, leaving the score 38-6 with 10:22 left to play.
After a fumble recovery by senior Garrett Gunter, the Red Devils scored one final time on a 1-yard run by sophomore halfback Brock Chelf with 25 seconds left on the clock. The score was set up by a pair of 13-yard runs — one from Chelf and one from Hoffard. The extra-points run was also converted by Chelf.