Northeastern, Johnson run wild in playoff win
Friday night was simply the Anu Johnson show at Northeastern, or at least it quickly turned into that.
The junior tailback ran wild for 230 yards and two touchdowns and led the Bobcats to their first district playoff win in program history -- a 48-12 blowout against Northern Lebanon.
Johnson ran through, around and over the Viking defense behind a Bobcat offensive line that dominated the line of scrimmage for 48 minutes.
"Absolutely one of his best games," Northeastern head coach Jon Scepanski said of Johnson. "He ran hard, and the offensive line was outstanding in front of him. It worked out pretty well for us."
It might have been the first home playoff game for Northeastern, but the Bobcats seemed quite comfortable on the big stage. Johnson racked up 128 yards and scored both of his touchdowns before halftime. His first was a 48-yard score midway through the first quarter when he bounced outside on third-and-long and outran the defense. His second score made it 26-6 late in the first half. The junior broke three tackles, made a defensive back miss with a juke move, then outran everyone else 38 yards to the house.
"They're a good team, and they're fast," Northern Lebanon head coach Roy Wall said. "They come off the ball fast, and their backs run hard and low. They got some big plays on us."
The Northeastern defense seemed to feed off the crowd and offense’s energy and bottled up the Vikings offense that had consistently put up big numbers in eight wins this season. The Bobcats forced a turnover, sacked Isaac Wengert five times, made 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and held the Vikings to 192 yards.
"We didn't really have anything going that we could hang our hats on," Wall added.
The Vikings’ lone bright spot early on came when Wengert hit Michigan Daub over the middle for a 17-yard score that knotted the game at 6-6 in the first. Then Northeastern reeled off 26 unanswered points starting with an 89-yard kickoff return by Taemar Willis on the ensuing kickoff. Early in the second, quarterback Shannon Valenti’s first completion of the night came on a 23-yard touchdown to David Ankney on fourth down. Ankney added a second score in the third quarter, and the Bobcats piled on 16 more points in the fourth.
In the end, it was the Bobcats celebrating playoff success for the first time with their jubilant fans while a teary-eyed Viking squad consoled each other at the far end zone.
"It's awesome," Scepanski said with a big smile just moments after being showered by his team with Gatorade. "These guys deserve it. The playoffs were our goal from preseason. Now we've got one under our belt so we'll keep going."
Northern Lebanon_ 6_ 0_ 0_ 6_— _12
Northeastern_ 12_ 14_ 6_ 16_— _48
Ne -- Anu Johnson 48 run (kick blocked), 9:05.
NL -- Michigan Daub 17 pass from Isaac Wengert (run failed), 4:04.
Ne -- Taemar Willis 89 kick return (kick blocked), 3:50.
Ne -- David Ankney 23 pass from Shannon Valenti (Anu Johnson run), 10:01.
Ne -- Johnson 38 run (pass failed), 5:48.
Ne -- Ankney 18 pass from Valenti (kick missed), 4:47.
NL -- Corey Teasdale 2 pass from Wengert (run failed), 11:28.
Ne -- Chris Whack 21 run (Cameron Artman kick), 10:27.
Ne -- Fred Mulbah 60 run (Artman kick), 3:12.
Ne -- Safety, 2:29.
First downs_ 13 _ 15
Rushes-Yards_ 34-95 _ 34-356
Passing_ 12-23 _ 3-5
Passing Yards_ 97 _ 47
Total Yards_ 192 _ 403
Punts_ 4-30 _ 0-0
Fumbles-Lost_ 0-0 _ 2-1
Penalties-Yards_ 1-10 _ 4-40
Rushing — NL, Stephen Herb 8-30, Noah Smith 5-28, Isaac Wengert 20-36, Dustin Motter 1-1. Ne, Anu Johnson 16-230, Fred Mulbah 1-60, Wyatt Hughes 2-4, Shannon Valenti 6-22, Chris Whack 6-32, David Ankney 1-0, Blaine Yinger 1-8, Taemar Willis 1-0.
Passing — NL, Wengert 11-21-1-74, Michigan Daub 1-2-23 . Ne, Valenti 3-5-47
Receiving — NL, Daub 4-45, Herb 3-29, Colton Herb 1-7, Corey Teasdale 3-16, Smith 1-0. Ne, Ankney 2-41, Dez Wigginton 1-6.