CUMBERLAND — Mountain Ridge’s Rashawn Johnson put on quite a show Friday night at Greenway Avenue Stadium.
So did all his teammates, from the opening kickoff to the final horn, as the Miners ended a 13-game losing streak with a convincing 35-21 victory over Allegany.
Johnson was just about unstoppable, running 29 times for 258 yards and four touchdowns and also completing a first-quarter pass for 34 yards for the Miners, who never trailed, took advantage of four Allegany turnovers, and led 35-14 with 6:41 to play.
It was Mountain Ridge’s first win since a 45-0 victory over Keyser in the regular-season finale of 2011.
Head coach Roy DeVore, after a drenching from the water cooler in the final seconds, admitted a ton of weight felt like it had been taken off everyone’s shoulders.
“Absolutely. And what better way to do it than down here, in Greenway Avenue Stadium, against Allegany?” he said. “We’ve been telling these kids for two years, once they started believing in themselves and doing the right things, that it could be done, and we were a little lucky tonight, too.
“They played their guts out and I couldn’t be prouder of them. I know we’re only 1-2, but it is definitely one of the greatest wins in my career.”
The Miners had been outscored 89-41 in losses at Jefferson and Hedgesville to begin the season, but a defense led by Ian McCormick, Tim Buskirk and Matt Whetstone made the night a frustrating one for the Campers.
“Mountain Ridge ... I’ve got to hand it to them. They came out and played hard, and we had a difficult time tackling,’’ said Allegany coach Tom Preaskorn. “We made some fundamental errors, and put the ball on the ground. We had our opportunities but didn’t capitalize on them.
“We fumbled inside the 10 once, had another fumble returned for a touchdown and another that they ran back and scored a few plays later. Against any team, you can’t make those mistakes.”
Mountain Ridge had only one turnover, early in the first quarter, and was whistled for only three penalties over the first three quarters.
After losing a fumble at the Allegany 15 on the first possession, the Miners regained possession after a punt and marched 78 yards in 17 plays in a drive that ate up 7:09. Johnson scored on a five-yard run with 57 seconds left in the quarter.
Allegany tied it 7-7 on an eight-yard touchdown run by Wade McGee early in the second quarter, but the Miners answered just four plays later when Johnson, from the Mountain Ridge 38, took a pitch around the left side, sped past tacklers and tight-roped along the sideline the final 10 yards. Dylan Shockey blocked the extra point, but the Miners led 13-7 with 8:09 left in the half, and kept the lead the rest of the way.
Linebacker Ian McCormick came up with one of several huge defensive plays when, one fourth-and-four from the Mountain Ridge 22, he batted down an Allegany pitch, scooped it up at the 38, sidestepped a tackler at the Allegany 40, and raced 62 yards for a touchdown and, after Johnson’s conversion run, the Miners led 21-7.
Trenton Eirich lofted a perfect pass to Darion Lopez along the sidelines to get the Campers to within 21-14 just before halftime.
McCormick’s defensive play turned the momentum late in the first half, and Brandon Redmond’s interception did the same early in the second, and it set up another tremendous run by Johnson. On second-and-10 from the Miners 47, Johnson took a pitch, cut through the line, ran through three tacklers, and dashed 53 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-14 with nine minutes left in the third quarter.
The run gave him 183 yards on the ground in a little over a half of play.
“What can you say?” DeVore said of Johnson’s performance. “It’s kind of hard to describe. He’s a different type of runner than we’ve had here before. He plays with his heart, and anybody who watched the game could see that.
“He played with his heart and the kids rallied around him. We had some people hurt and had some cramping going on, but everyone gutted it out and played one heck of a ball game.”
Allegany still had the time to come back, but on second-and-goal from the four, Mountain Ridge’s Ty Brooks pounced on a fumbled snap. Later in the fourth quarter, Whetstone scooped up a fumble after a short pass to Dalton Golliday near midfield and ran 49 yards to the Allegany three.
Johnson scored two plays later, bouncing off two Allegany defenders and falling forward into the end zone, making it 35-14 with 6:41 left.
Golliday scored on a 16-yard run to cut it to 35-21 with 4:06 remaining. The Miners fell on an onsides kick and never gave it back.
Mountain Ridge outgained Allegany 343-186 on the ground, and held a 407-351 edge in total yardage.
Trenton Eirich led the Campers, completing 13 of 20 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. Goliday ran 10 times for 88 yards. Brooks had six carries for 50 yards, all in the fourth quarter, for Mountain Ridge.
Both teams play again Friday. Mountain Ridge makes its home debut against Hampshire while Allegany travels to Keyser.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org