[Vandal] Johnson’s 6-Pack Boosts Vandals
robiegruss at aol.com
robiegruss at aol.com
Sun Nov 7 08:23:21 PST 2021
>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoSunday, November7, , 2021
Johnson’s 6-Pack Boosts Vandals
RB sets record, Idaho halts 3-game skid with big win on senior day
By Stephan Wiebe
MOSCOW — Going into Saturday’s football game against Southern Utah, Idaho running back Roshaun Johnson was fourth on the team in rushing.
By the end of the Vandals’ 42-24 victory at the Kibbie Dome, Johnson had racked up 174 rushing yards and a school-record six touchdowns. He’d tied the program record of four by halftime.
Johnson’s record day helped Idaho (3-6, 2-4 Big Sky) end a three-game losing streak and grab a big senior day victory in its last home game of the season. The Thunderbirds fell to 1-9 and 0-7 exactly one week after they almost upset No. 11 Montana.
The first thing Johnson did as he walked into the postgame press conference was thank his blockers.
“The offensive line, they just kept getting stronger and stronger throughout the entire game,” Johnson said.
Johnson got stronger and stronger too.
With injuries to Vandal running backs Aundre Carter and Nick Romano, Johnson and freshman Eli Cummings were the only two running backs available for the game.
They each delivered — Cummings contributed 133 yards of total offense — but it was Johnson who racked up touchdown after touchdown, showing a steady mix of speed, vision, balance and power, sometimes all on the same play.
When the 6-foot, 235-pound junior soared over a pile at the goal line for a touchdown late in the second quarter, he’d already tied Idaho’s single game record of four touchdowns.
Idaho led 28-10 going into the break.
“We put so much blood, sweat and tears into this game every single week,” Johnson said. “To come out with an L the last couple weeks has been tough, but we came out with a dub today and I feel like it’s all that hard work ... and finally getting something out of it.”
It seemed like a game where everything meant more.
Linemen created bigger holes, tight ends and fullbacks were always in the right spots, linebackers seemed to have an extra step and the skill guys and defensive linemen had more burst than usual.
Coach Paul Petrino and the coaching staff had preached all week about getting a win for the seniors in their final home game, some of whom had been playing college football since 2015 (like quarterback Mike Beaudry) or been donning silver and gold since 2016 (like defensive linemen Rahsaan Crawford and Charles Akanno).
“It was the last time some of those guys play in that Dome and I told them, ‘Make it your best game you’ve played in that Dome yet,’ and those guys did,” Petrino said. “That was awesome. Super proud of them.”
Nobody showed more effort than Johnson and Akanno, who had three sacks, all on the same drive, and six total tackles for loss.
In the fourth quarter, Akanno sacked SUU quarterback Justin Miller on back-to-back plays. When that wasn’t enough to stop the T-birds, Akanno later strip-sacked Miller inside Idaho’s own 10-yard line on the same drive and teammate Noah Elliss recovered the fumble.
It was easily Akanno’s biggest performance since the senior tore his Achilles amid a phenomenal 2019 season.
“I just wanted to make plays for my team,” Akanno said. “It just happened to be three sacks and it helped us get the win so I’m very proud of that. I love all my teammates so I go out there and play hard for them.”
Outside of Johnson and Akanno’s heroics, Petrino said the play of the game might’ve come in the passing game. Facing a fourth-and-10 at the SUU 26, Beaudry patiently sat in the pocket before firing over the middle to Mekhi Stevenson for a 10-yard gain to keep the drive alive.
On the next play, Johnson bounced outside for a 16-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead.
On Idaho’s next drive, Beaudry hit Stevenson for 20 yards and Terez Traynor for 30 on back-to-back plays to set up Johnson’s second touchdown and a 14-0 advantage.
SUU put together a long scoring drive of its own and later looked like it might be able to tie the game in the second quarter, but the Vandals held the T-birds out of the end zone on three straight plays inside the 5-yard line. Linebacker Tre Walker, who led the team with 12 tackles, swatted a pass down in the end zone on third down and SUU had to settle for a short field goal that made it 14-10.
That was as close as the Thunderbirds would get the rest of the way.
Miller finished with 301 passing yards for SUU on a day its ground game was held to just 17 yards.The game wasn’t without a few miscues. Beaudry was intercepted in the end zone and Stevenson muffed a punt that gave the T-birds the ball with great field position. The defense also had a couple of penalties on third downs on an SUU scoring drive.
But the Vandals more than made up for their faults.
“There was a couple knucklehead things, but our big motto this week was ‘Hold the rope, keep fighting,’ and we did,” Petrino said. “There was a couple times guys could’ve went ‘Oh, shoot,’ but they didn’t. They kept fighting.”
Stars of the game
Idaho junior running back ROSHAUN JOHNSON broke the program’s single-game touchdown record with six rushing touchdowns, four of those coming before halftime. He amassed 174 rushing yards on a 5.8-yard average. On defense, senior end/linebacker CHARLES AKANNO piled up three sacks on a single drive and six total tackles for loss. Junior linebacker TRE WALKER added 12 tackles. For Southern Utah, quarterback JUSTIN MILLER went 23-of-36 passing for 301 yards and one touchdown, but he was sacked five times. TREYSON JOHNSON had a game-high 15 tackles at safety.
Roshaun Johnson leapt over the pile at the goal line for his program-tying fourth touchdown of the game late in the second quarter to extend Idaho’s lead to 28-10 going into the locker room. A 20-yard Johnson run earlier in the drive helped set up the touchdown.
The teams traded touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters, but Idaho maintained at least a two-score lead the rest of the way.
Idaho plays No. 4 Montana State at noon Saturday at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman, Mont.
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