BASCOM - Just 16 seconds remained in the half, time for perhaps a couple plays. Then again, why work for two when a simple toss sweep will do?
The workings may not be all that simple, but Mohawk junior Gunnar Johnson made it look that way with a 53-yard touchdown sprint for 25-7 lead over Hopewell-Loudon here Friday night.
From there, it was simply a matter of maintaining as the Warriors posted a 39-20 Midland Athletic League win.
Johnson, who won league offensive player of the week honors after rushing for 324 yards and five touchdowns in a romp over North Baltimore last week, was even better this time around.
The Warrior junior gashed the Chieftain defense for 329 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns as Mohawk won its second straight after opening the season with four tough losses.
"We've had a lot of really good kids but we've never had anybody who was able to do that," Warrior coach Erik Baker said of Johnson's back-to-back 300-plus-yard games.
"We really got out of the power and counter game and we're doing more zone," he said. "And he flourishes in it. You give Gunnar six inches and he's gone."
If Johnson's overall game was impressive, his big finish to the first half was incredible. His last three attempts before the break were touchdown runs of 54, 80 and 53 yards.
Three carries, 187 yards, three scores.
The Warriors trailed 7-6 when an H-L fumble put them in business on their own 41. On the third snap, Johnson took a pitch on the toss sweep around right end for a 12-7 lead with 6:36 to go in the half.
The Chieftains countered with three first downs in a 48-yard drive, but Cody Malone (22 carries, 177 yards) was stopped inches short of a fourth advance at the Mohawk 17.
Eric Maskey carried for 3 yards and then Johnson ripped off his 80-yard touchdown run and the margin was 18-7.
While the Warrior defense was recording a couple sacks of H-L quarterback Derek Runion, Baker called time out twice in the hope of getting one more shot. And Johnson made it work with yet another big burst.
"This felt great. It was a lot better than last week," Johnson said while crediting the likes of seniors Tyler Baird, Collin Fox, Devon Fredritz and Bryan Schube, junior Arin Mullins and sophomores Tyler Pummell and Derrick Sowers up front.
"There were some big holes," he said. "All I had to do was run through them."
"Huge, huge for us," Baker said of the close of the half. "We saw an opportunity. I'm not one to typically try to save time with timeouts. We had a lead and I thought we were going to get good field position and Gunnar just had that spark going."
The burst was equal parts lift for the Warriors and disappointment for the Chieftains.
"We said before the game that he's one of the top athletes in the league and difficult to tackle," H-L coach Jeremy Nutter said. "We proved that he's difficult to tackle by not doing a very good job.
"We didn't have a very good offensive possession there right before the half and clearly didn't defend very well to give up that score," he said.
Johnson's 59-yard run set up the game's first score, a 3-yard run by Eric Maskey with 5:39 left in the first period.
But Hopewell-Loudon gained the upper hand with 38 seconds left in the half when Runion's fake handoff to Malone drew defenders and he scooted around left end for a 49-yard score. Adam Bour's kick made it 7-6.
In the second half, Chieftains trimmed the margin to 25-12 on Malone's 1-yard smash with 6:27 left in the third period. The score was set by Runion's 42-yard pass to Ryan Lommerse.
But Mohawk followed with an 11-play, 58-yard drive capped by Maskey's 6-yard TD.
Logan Stillberger hit a 32-yard touchdown on a counter for Mohawk and Runion hooked up with Jordan Stewart for a 69-yard TD to close the scoring.
"I give them a lot of credit," Nutter said. "They were physical, more physical than us tonight. They were tougher than we were and offensively, they did what they wanted to do."
The loss dropped H-L (4-2, 2-1) out of a first-place tie with Carey (3-2, 2-0). If Calvert (1-4, 1-1) can pull off an upset at Frost-Kalnow Stadium tonight, it would create a six-way tie for the top spot.