Kyle Johnson’s experienced hands delivered Wingate an opening day win.
Johnson, a junior quarterback, passed for a score and ran for another in the Bulldogs’ 14-0 victory over J.C. Smith on Saturday at McGirt Field to spoil Golden Bulls coach Kermit Blount’s debut. Johnson accounted for 192 yards of total offense, including 14-of-19 passing for 141 yards.
“It was a team effort,” he said. “Anything I do couldn’t be done without the guys up front, without the running backs and receivers the way we attacked the ball. I’ve got to give the praise to them.”
Johnson did his share, though. His 9-yard run on an option put Wingate (1-0) ahead 7-0 in the first quarter and Jody Fuller turned a short pass into a 38-yard gain for the final score. The Bulldogs defense handled the rest, repelling J.C. Smith on three possessions inside the Wingate 20.
“We had a good game plan coming in,” Johnson said. “It was real hard. We didn’t know exactly (with) the coaching changes at Johnson C. Smith what they were going to do, but we stuck with what we knew and what we were good at and came out and executed it.”
J.C. Smith, which has 35 freshmen on the roster, showed its inexperience, especially on offense. Three turnovers in the red zone – all on fumbles by freshmen – doomed scoring opportunities. Wingate’s Andre Foulkes turned in a critical fourth quarter stop when he stripped the ball from Desean Binyard and recovered at the Bulldogs 8 to kill a 98-yard march.
“Those are things that come with young players. That’s what comes with a young program and I’m OK with that,” Blount said. “I’m not going to get on my guys, I’m not going to get down on my team about that. I’ll get down on my team about a lack of effort, but the effort was not lacking. We just happened to make a mistake there.”
J.C. Smith freshman quarterback Jordan Lane, a Victory Christian graduate, connected on 13-of-24 passes for 192 yards, but was sacked three times and constantly pressured in his first collegiate start.
“It’s a maturation,” said Lane, whose longest completion was a 43-yard strike to Fred Scott in the fourth. “You have to mature with every game, so coming from high school to college, it’s a whole different level but it’s still the same game.”