A lot of factors were in the corner of the Johnston Dragons coming into Friday night’s matchup against West Des Moines Dowling Catholic.
The Maroons were coming off an upset win of previously unbeaten Ankeny, it was senior night meaning a break in the pregame routine, and the sophomore game ran long and kickoff moved back to just before 8 PM. Players and the head coach said they were playing uninspired football.
But good teams find ways to win and Dowling Catholic did that in a 27-14 win at Drake Stadium Friday night.
The Maroons continued to unveil wrinkles in their offense. Last week, it was the use of freshman QB Ryan Boyle doing his best Connor Bravard impression. This week it was Boyle throwing a pass, Dan Hartlieb running the ball and an extended use of the no-huddle offense in the football game.
Dowling still tried running the ball, employing Ben Goaley for 25 carries worth 112 yards and Boyle’s 5 rushes worth 17 yards. The Hartlieb run was a called pass play, but with good Johnston pass coverage, Danny improvised for an 11-yard run to the endzone. The Maroons finished the night with 181 yards rushing on 38 attempts.
The passing game also looked really good on a couple of plays Friday night. The game’s first score was a Hartlieb to Addison Bennett for a 34-yard TD pass. The catch was Bennett’s first touchdown of the season.
Johnston tied the game on a 1-yard run by Connor Yocum at the 10:17 mark in the 2nd quarter. The drive was set up after the Dragons recovered a Dowling fumble and only had short, 37-yard field to play with.
The next drive for Dowling would feature big plays on an something-out-of-nothing run by Goaley for 31 yards and a Boyle’s first varsity pass, a nice, into the wind toss to Matthew Haack for 33 yards. Two plays later, Hartlieb was back in the game and in the endzone.
Hartlieb was throw another beautiful pass to Brandon Ogden for a 13-yard score to give the Maroons a 20-7 halftime lead.
Johnston QB Michael Kinning would find Cullen Maahs for a 13-yard TD strike to pull the Dragons within 6 at the 7:53 mark in the 3rd Quarter.
The next drive featured the play of the night. Dan Hartlieb, one of 37 seniors playing in his final regular season home game, would make the highlight reel on a 52-yard TD pass to Haack. Haack had 7 catches worth 141 yards. Hartlieb would finish the night 10-18 passing for 209 yards.
The defenses would hold up the rest of the night and the score would hold up at 27-14.
Dowling Catholic had 422 yards of total offense while Johnston had 285. The run game of the Dragons did not yield much fruit with only 40 yards on 26 carries. Yocum had 54 yards on 18 carries. The difference in yardage total is due to a couple of QB sacks and a snap that went over the QB’s head.
The Maroons improve to 6-2 with a regular season finale at Indianola on Friday. Johnston is now 4-3 and faces Ankeny this week with Southeast Polk to follow.