STORY BY DAVID CAMPBELL
LIVINGSTON — No rust here.
The Bryan Vikings, who hadn’t played a football game since Sept. 6, operated like a well-oiled machine in a 48-0 District 18-5A opening win over Livingston on Friday at Lions Stadium.
“Our kids came out playing aggressively, and we executed,” said Bryan coach Ross Rogers, whose Vikings rolled up 479 offensive yards. “We wore them down, but the things we talked about for the last two weeks, we got done.”
Despite the efficient play, that Bryan machine showed some pretty impressive sparks, which flashed brilliantly in part because the Vikings were so good at sabotaging everything that Livingston tried to make work.
Bryan built a 41-0 lead at halftime, holding Livingston to 37 passing yards in the opening half and minus 1 yard on the ground. The Lions managed two first downs.
“It’s been a long time for the Bryan Vikings and Coach Rogers to have that kind of lead,” said Rogers, who lauded his defensive coaches. “They put an option defense together, and it’s hard to defend that any more. You don’t see that as much. I felt like we had a really good idea of what we wanted to do, and certainly we executed.”
On offense, the Vikings put together a highlight reel. KeeKee Johnson, who had 91 rushing yards at halftime and finished with 125 on 15 carries, found numerous ways to shed a defender — using a stiff-arm, a blast to the chest of a defender and some quick side steps.
He opened the Vikings’ scoring with a 27-yard run, starting a 27-point first quarter for Bryan. Johnson nearly had his jersey stretched to double its size when dragging one defender on an up-the-middle run. But he wasn’t alone on the action.
Quaylon Newton made a leaping catch over three defenders, and Jarvis Lister, a multi-purpose runner who saw time at tailback, bounced runs outside to keep drives alive.
But the common denominator was junior quarterback B.J. Ross. Harassed though much of his first two games, Ross rolled out to buy time and threw a perfect strike to Newton for the game’s second score. Ross, who shared time at quarterback with backup Arthur Mooring, completed 12 of 14 passes for 167 yard and two touchdowns.
Ross’ best pass was his last, throwing deep on a post pattern to Sterling Whitley, who leaped slightly to make the reception and completed a 34-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“We worked on that a lot in practice,” Ross said. “If the safety turns his back on him, I stick it right behind him. It was probably the best ball I threw all night.”
His coach enjoyed seeing it.
“Those kind of throws are hard to defend, because you can’t break on them because the ball his there so quick,” Rogers said. “We know that B.J. has got that type of arm. We spend a lot of time out there throwing that, and to see it come like that, it really makes us feel good about the future. You gain confidence by throwing those types of balls.”
Passes often set up running scores. Ross dumped a short pass to Johnson, who raced to the Livingston 11-yard line. A play later, Lister darted inside and into the end zone. Another long pass play helped Ross score a rushing touchdown. Newton again made a grab from Mooring that he ran to the Livingston 2, and Mooring scored from there.
The defense, which started with the Vikings’ line slamming down early Livingston running plays, got its most spectacular play in the secondary. Livingston quarterback Kurt Wilson’s pass skipped off a receiver and appeared headed out of bounds. A.J. Reynolds pulled it in for an interception, drawing it back to the field of play with one hand.
“Other than maybe Quaylon, these guys have played a lot of varsity football for two years,” Rogers said. “They want to turn loose and make plays like that, and hopefully that’s just a little bit of what we’re going to see later.”
Defense set the stage for the Vikings’ fourth first-quarter touchdown when Coleman Johnson forced a fumble and Bryan Ward recovered. It was Lister and Johnson handling the ball exclusively on the scoring drive, with Johnson breaking free for the final 10 yards.
Livingston gained just 80 total yards in the game with 41 rushing, and Bryan posted the shutout by turning aside the Lions late after they got as close as the Viking 8 in the fourth quarter. Jaquavious Nickson’s nice run after his reception got the Lions there, but Bryan’s defense threw Livingston for losses of 21 combined yards over three consecutive plays. Sophomore quarterback Wilson, given little time to set up throws all night, scrambled on fourth-and-21 and gained a yard.
Courtesy of the B/CS Eagle