JOHNSTOWN – For three quarters on Saturday, Wellston and Johnstown was locked in a defensive stalemate. The Rockets entered the final quarter trailing only 10-6.

Then the fourth quarter began, and Johnstown scored 21 unanswered points for a 31-6 win in the second round of the Division V playoffs in Region 19 at Frank Chambers Stadium.

“We turned the ball over, and I think we lost our spirit,” said Wellston head coach Mike Smith. “When we got down by three scores, our kids seen the time on the clock. It’s just one of those things.

Late in the second quarter, Wellston had an opportunity to break the defensive stalemate but failed to convert on a fourth-and-2 from the Johnstown 5-yard line with 36-seconds to play.

For three quarters, Wellston’s defense was the bright spot, as the Rockets forced Johnstown to punt four times and held them on downs twice.

However, Johnstown pulled away in the fourth, as Wes Myers had touchdown runs of 3, 1, and 23 yards for the Johnnies.

The first score was set up after Myers returned a punt 43 yards to the Wellston 21-yard line. Five plays later, Meyers’ three-yard touchdown run extended the lead to 17-6.

Johnstown found the end zone again three-minutes later to take a 24-6 lead.

The scoring drive came courtesy of Brandon McConnell, who intercepted Wellston’s Jeremiah Frisby at the Johnstown 31-yard line.

The six-play, 69-yard drive was highlighted by Jaden Jacob’s 38-yard run, setting up Myers’ 1-yard touchdown run on the next play.

The Johnnies’ final scoring drive came after Wellston turned the ball over on downs at the Johnstown 37-yard line, and Myers capped the four-play drive with a 23-yard touchdown scamper with 2:16 remaining.

Myers finished with 138 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries to lead Johnstown’s offense, while Jacob rushed for 69-yards on seven carries. Johnstown quarterback Joe Sahr, who didn’t complete a pass, had 64 rushing yards on 16 attempts.

Both teams went three-and-out on their opening drives to start the game, but Frisby had the ball stripped on the Rockets’ first play of their second drive, and Justin Larochelle recovered the fumble, giving Johnstown a short field to work with.

The Johnnies went 10-yards in three plays, as Myers capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge for a 7-0 lead.

That would be the only offense in the first quarter.

Wellston’s first points came early in the second quarter when Frisby connected with Hunter Smith on a 21-yard touchdown pass, but the Rockets trailed 7-6 after coming up short on the two-point conversion attempt.

The scoring drive was extended when Eston Riley rushed for 14 yards on a fake punt on fourth-and-12.

Frisby completed 9 of 22 passes for 125 yards, with one touchdown, and two interceptions for the Rockets, while Smith finished with two receptions for 38 yards.

Wellston finished with 209 total yards for the game, as R.J. Kemp led the offense with 102 yards rushing on 14 carries, with two receptions for 33 yards. Jonathon Garvin rushed for 29 yards on seven carries and had one catch for 14 yards for the Rockets.

Following an eight-play, 38-yard drive, Caleb Schneider split the uprights with a 25-yard field goal late in the second quarter to give Johnstown a 10-6 lead at the half.

The Rockets, which finished with a 5-3 record after the loss, should be competitive next season with a good nucleus of talent returning.

“We will be competitive next year,” said Smith. “We have to have a good off-season and get these young kids in the weight room and get them ready.”

The downside is the Rockets lose 13 seniors off this year’s squad, including Chase Ingalls, Alex Ewing, Garrett Warnock, Brock Eggers, Lawrence Louderback, Jarrod Wilbur, Kai West, Timmy Causey, Kemp, Smith, Riley, and Garvin.

“I love these guys. They are great kids,” Smith said about his seniors. They have played their guts out me for two years. They are a special group.”

After a modified six-game schedule and limited fan support in the stands because of Covid-19 in 2020, Coach Smith hopes that things return to normal next season.

“This has been one jacked-up season,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, Johnstown improved to 6-2 with the win to advance to the third round of the playoffs next week at Ironton. The top-seeded Fighting Tigers defeated New Lexington 49-3 on Saturday night.

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TEAM STATISTICS

                                 W              J

First Downs                                             13                            15

Scrimmage Plays                                     57                            58           

Rushing (No.-Yds.)                                 35-84                       56-271

Passing (Cmp.-Att.-Int.)                          9-22-2                     0-2-0

Passing Yards                                         125                          0

Total Yards                                              209                          271

Fumbles (No.-Lost)                                 3-1                           0-0

Turnovers                                                3                              0

Penalties (No.-Yards)                              7-60                         3-27

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

RUSHING – WELLSTON: R.J. Kemp 14-102, Jonathon Garvin 7-29, Eston Riley 1-14, Chase Ingalls 1-(-5), Jeremiah Frisby 10-(-20), TEAM 2-(-36); JOHNSTOWN: Wes Myers 32-138 (4 TDs), Jaden Jacob 7-69, Joe Sahr 16-64, Nathan Sheets 1-0.

PASSING – WELLSTON: Jeremiah Frisby 9 of 22 for 125 yards, with one touchdown, and two interceptions; JOHNSTOWN: Joe Sahr, 0 of 2 for 0 yards.

RECEIVING – WELLSTON: Hunter Smith 2-38 (1 TD), Chase Ingalls 3-36, R.J. Kemp 2-33, Jonathon Garvin 1-14, Zach Wilbur 1-4; JOHNSTOWN: None.