COLUMBUS GROVE — Friday’s nonconference football matchup between Columbus Grove and Patrick Henry was a game full of big plays.
Unfortunately for Columbus Grove, it was Patrick Henry making most of those big plays – especially running back Donny Johnson – who rushed for 216 yards and six touchdowns to lead his team to a convincing 47-27 victory over Columbus Grove at Clymer Stadium.
With the win, Patrick Henry improves to 3-0. Columbus Grove slips to 2-1.
Johnson, who came into Friday’s tilt with 482 total rushing yards in his first two games of the season, put on quite a display.
After a somewhat lackluster first half, in which Johnson rushed for only 48 yards and two touchdowns, the 5-foot-8, 175-pound senior exploded in the second half, rambling for 168 yards and four TDs.
“Donny Johnson is a special athlete,” Patrick Henry coach Bill Inselmann said. “I can’t stand there and say that it’s the way we draw it up, because everybody knows that’s not the way it is. He’s a special athlete. Coaches win with talent.”
Patrick Henry quarterback Mitchell Bonner kept the Grove defense at bay, completing 7-of-13 passes for 191 yards and a TD.
Quarterback Reid Stechschulte led Columbus Grove with 155 rushing yards and two TDs. However, Patrick Henry’s defense stamped out any passing attack Columbus Grove could muster as Stechschulte was just 3-of-9 passing for 42 yards, with three interceptions.
Eric Warnecke rushed for 96 yards on six carries and a TD, while teammate Grant Cassidy broke loose on a kick-off return and ran it back 66 yards for a TD late in the game.
The game was tied at 7 apiece after one quarter. However, by halftime, Patrick Henry pulled out to a 22-7 lead. Johnson had TD runs of 15 and 8 yards. Bonner connected with T.J. Rhamy for a 6-yard scoring strike in the second quarter.
In the second half, Johnson took over, rushing for the bulk of his team’s yardage.
After getting down 29-7 midway in the third quarter, Grove came roaring back, cutting the deficit to 29-21, just seconds into the fourth quarter.
Warnecke scored on a 13-yard run late in the third quarter. Then, Stechschulte ran it in from 17 yards out to cut it to eight points.
However, Johnson reeled off TD runs of 5 and 10 yards to push the Patriots’ lead to 41-21, with 7:54 left to play.
Columbus Grove answered with Cassidy’s kick-off return, cutting the deficit to 41-27.
But, just like he did the entire game, Johnson responded for yet another TD run, this time a run that covered 68 yards.
“I’m going to go on record and say that I do not like spread teams,” Inselmann said. “They (Columbus Grove) are very well coached. They have a three-year starter at quarterback. They run that zone about as good as anybody.”
For the game, Patrick Henry rolled up 506 total yards. Columbus Grove amassed 355 yards.
“The big plays were the keys to the whole thing,” Columbus Grove coach Andy Schafer said. “It was such an emotional game, because we would make a big play, and we thought we were back in it. Then, all of a sudden, it went the other direction.
“But, I give credit to our kids … They could have given up a lot earlier in the game, but they kept fighting, and they kept thinking they had a chance. We all thought we had a chance.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached 567-242-0468.