Johnson’s TD trifecta lifts Red Devils past Bears, 44-14

Red Devils' Brandon Johnson (3) earns three TDs against Bunker Hill on Friday, August 23. (Photo by Cody Dalton/ CSD Photography)
Cody Dalton
O-N-E Contributor

Brandon Johnson couldn’t have envisioned a better start to his junior football season at Newton-Conover High School on Friday.

Equaling his jersey number, Johnson scored three touchdowns in the first six minutes against visiting Bunker Hill — one receiving and two on the defense — leading the Red Devils to a 44-14 season-opening win at Gurley Stadium.

The three-touchdown performance caught Johnson by surprise.

“I didn’t expect it, but at the same time I did,” he said. “I know that I worked hard in the offseason, and I always expect good things out of myself. To start off like that is amazing.”

Two of Johnson’s touchdowns came in the first 1:58 of the contest, including a 50-yard touchdown catch just 38 seconds in.

With rain pouring in buckets during the next series, the Red Devils’ Quaylon Stewart stripped Bunker Hill’s Marcus Sigmon of the wet football, and Johnson scooped the loose ball up and ran 42 yards for his second touchdown of the game.

Shortly after Johnson’s second score, both teams endured about a 45-minute delay for lightning and heavy rain before resuming the game around 8:30 p.m.

When players and coaches returned to the field, Johnson continued his hot start to the game, intercepting Bears quarterback Carson Elder and returning it 25 yards for his third score and a 21-0 Red Devil lead.

“I’ve just working hard on my defensive skills in the offseason and really focusing on the defensive side of the ball,” Johnson said.

While Johnson’s performance was impressive, so was the play of the Newton-Conover defense, which allowed only 152 total yards of offense to Bunker Hill.

The Bears cracked the scoreboard with eight minutes left in the first half when Sigmon returned an interception of Red Devils quarterback Justice Craig 35 yards for a touchdown.

However, Newton-Conover would build a 34-7 halftime lead, adding a pair of touchdown runs by Allen Wilfong of seven yards and 15 yards before the break.

After a quiet third quarter for both teams that only included one score — a 34-yard field goal by Newton-Conover kicker Addison Hayes — each team added one score apiece in the final stanza.

Both scores came on touchdown passes — Elder connected with Bears wide receiver Hector Stamey on a 53-yard pass-and-catch, while Craig tossed a 14-yard score to Red Devil wideout Keagen Covington.

Stamey finished the game with four catches for 102 yards to lead the Bears.

Bunker Hill (0-1) tries to bounce back next week with a home game against another country rival in St. Stephens (0-1), which fell 36-15 to Bandys on Friday night.

Meanwhile, the Red Devils are off in week two before returning to action Sept. 6 at cross-town rival Hickory.

Johnson said Friday night’s win is a big boost for his team heading into the bye week.

“It gives us a lot of confidence and focus,” he said.

Scoring summary

1st quarter
11:22 - Justice Craig 50-yard pass to Brandon Johnson (PAT failed) 6-0 NC
10:02 - Johnson 38-yard fumble recovery (Addison Hayes PAT) 13-0 NC
5:44 - Johnson 25-yard interception return (Trey Stinson run) 21-0 NC

2nd quarter
8:00 - Marcus Sigmon 35-yard interception return (Blazen Bumgarner PAT) 21-7 NC
5:57 - Allen Wilfong 7-yard run (pass failed) 27-7 NC
1:11 - Wilfong 15-yard run (Hayes PAT) 34-7 NC

3rd quarter
0:37 - Hayes 34-yard field goal - 37-7 NC

4th quarter
6:25 - Carson Elder 53-yard pass to Hector Stamey (Bumgarner kick)
2:33 - Craig 14-yard pass to Keagen Covington (Hayes PAT)

Passing: 8-18, 128 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: 27 carries, 137 rushing, 2 TD
281 total yards
2 defensive TDs
Brandon Johnson - 3 TDs in first six minutes (50-yard reception, 42-yard fumble recovery and 25-yard INT return)

Bunker Hill
Passing: 6-10, 120 yards, TD, INT
Rushing: 35 carries, 68 yards
152 total yards of offense
Hector Stamey - 4 catches, 102 yards, TD