Big play a lovely connection
WESTVILLE – Somewhere between first down and the end zone, Aaron Johnson figured he'd get his chance, but the Westville senior never thought he'd convert the longest scoring play of the first half in Saturday's Class 2A football semifinal game against Casey-Westfield.
Johnson's shining moment in the Tigers' 27-19 victory in a showdown between undefeated teams almost never materialized.
With the teams locked in a scoreless battle and less than two minutes left in the first half, Jordan Barney took a handoff from quarterback Dustin Bil-lings. The next handoff between Barney and Caleb Pratt was fumbled, but Pratt recovered and raced to his right, looking downfield for receivers.
Nearly 20 yards behind the original line of scrimmage – which was the Westville 49 – he knew he had to release the ball quickly.
"I felt the pressure from my back side," Pratt said.
He made certain not to take the loss of yards.
"I threw it up to whoever could catch it," Pratt said.
Johnson quickly changed directions after the fumble.
"It was supposed to be a short route," he said, "but I took off down the field."
By the time Pratt tossed the ball up for grabs, Johnson was sandwiched between two Casey-Westfield defenders.
"I grabbed it and held on," he said. "I never thought I would score on the play."
He eluded the remainder of the Warriors' secondary and turned it into a 51-yard scoring play.
Pratt said it was a matter of doing what needed to be done.
"Sometimes you have to make plays," he said.
For Pratt, it was part of a game where he accounted for 306 of Westville's 386 yards of offense. He rushed for a game-high 244 yards and also had a 7-yard reception in addition to his second TD pass of the season.
Westville coach Guy Goodlove admitted he had doubts about the play even before he called it.
"We ran it in practice yesterday and fumbled it then, too," he said. "I got it in my earphone from Coach (Shawn) Skinner. He said, 'It'll work.'
"Aaron made an athletic play and got the ball in the end zone."
Johnson had 118 all-purpose yards: 53 coming on two catches, 40 on two kickoff returns and 25 on four rushes.