Grand senior Dakota Johnson had a career night, rushing for 211 yards and five touchdowns as the Grand County High School football team defeated North Sevier 56-14 in their homecoming game in Moab on Friday, Sept. 22, but the Red Devils lost two team captains to broken collarbones.
Johnson, along with fellow seniors Brayden Schultz and Josh Jones, has made up the formidable three-headed rushing attack that has helped guide the Red Devils to their current 6-0 record, including a 2-0 mark in 2A South play. On Friday, neither Schultz nor Jones made it out of the first quarter before being lost for the season as both suffered broken collarbones. Schultz scored the game’s first touchdown on a 12-yard run before going down, finishing with four carries for 27 yards. Jones was injured right before the end of the first quarter, going down on a rushing attempt and finishing with five carries for 41 yards.
To this point in the season, Schultz is tied for fourth in 2A with six rushing touchdowns, while Jones is tied for sixth with five. Schultz has 451 rushing yards and Jones has 341. Johnson’s big night put him in second in 2A with nine touchdowns and third with 609 yards. Schultz was the team’s lone first-team all-state selection in 2016.
Grand didn’t seem to feel the effects of Jones and Schultz going down on the offensive end, still amassing 56 points, but being down both starting safeties against a pass heavy team hurt Grand defensively, coach Dennis Wells said. The Wolves completed 22 out of 43 passes for 235 yards on the less experienced and game-tested Red Devils secondary, but had minus-1 rushing yards.
“We have a lot of depth,” Wells said. “What hurt us was that those guys are our two (starting) safeties.”
Although the Red Devils gave up a lot of pass completions, they also deflected numerous passes and got one interception, which came from senior Nick Downard in the first quarter, which he returned 40 yards for a touchdown to put Grand up 14-0.
After junior Andrew Hansen forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Austin Johnson recovered it, Dakota Johnson got the first of his five scores, this one from five yards out, to put Grand up 21-0.
North Sevier got on the board late in the first quarter on a tipped pass that fell into the arms of a receiver in the back of the end zone, but the point after was no good, leaving the score at 21-6.
Sophomore Bryant Troutt, playing quarterback in place of Jones after his injury, scored on a three-yard run early in the second quarter to put Grand up 28-6. Grand’s defensive committed a pair of 15-yard penalties on North Sevier’s ensuing drive, helping them cut the deficit to 28-14 with an 11-yard post over the middle followed by a pass to a wide open receiver for a two-point conversion.
Grand answered on its next drive as a 23-yard pass from Troutt to Downard set Dakota Johnson up for a one-yard scoring run and a 35-14 Grand lead. North Sevier got all the way down the field and had fourth and goal from the 7-yard line before senior Gage Hansen sacked the quarterback to end the scoring threat. Dakota Johnson broke free on the very next play for an 85-yard touchdown run to put the Red Devils up 42-14 heading into halftime.
Dakota Johnson scored from 15 yards out late in the third quarter and from six yards out in the middle of the fourth quarter and the Grand defense held the Wolves scoreless in the second half for a final score of 56-14. Stepping into increased offensive roles, Troutt had 11 carries for 61 yards, while junior Trent Elmore had 10 carries for 77 yards as Grand accumulated 436 team rushing yards.
“The offensive line had some good blocking,” Dakota Johnson said. He said the team remains confident heading into the last third of the season, despite the injuries to Schultz and Jones.
“We have faith in our depth,” he said. “We have faith in our other people.”
Defensively, Dakota Johnson led the team with seven tackles, while Downard had six tackles.
“In the second half, the defense did a really good job,” Wells said. “We let them get down deep, but we didn’t let them score.”
The top five in the Deseret News rankings remained unchanged: No. 1 South Summit; No. 2 Beaver; No. 3 Delta; No. 4 Grand; No. 5 Millard. Next up for the Red Devils is the final home game on their regular season schedule, in which they’ll play Enterprise (1-5, 0-2) on Friday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m.
“It’s hard to see what they have,” Wells said of Enterprise. “Against North Sevier (a 10-0 loss on Sept. 15), it was raining so hard that neither team could do anything except fumble the ball back and forth to each other.”
Dakota Johnson said the Red Devils cannot overlook Enterprise.
“We’ve got to have a good practice,” he said. “6-0 feels great. We hope to be 7-0, but we’ve got to take it one game at a time.”
Johnson rushes for five touchdowns, Jones and Schultz go down with injuries
What: Grand County High School football game versus Enterprise
When: Friday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m.
Where: Grand County High School football field, 608 S. 400 East