Junction City followed a familiar script in its win at Emporia on Friday.
Sloppy offensive play with two turnovers in the first half, strong defense keeping the game within distance and a strong second half offensively to make big plays to hold the lead at the end of the game.
A touchdown just before halftime and two interceptions in second half that led to touchdowns resulted in 30-6 road win for the Blue Jays.
Junction City (6-1) got the game started strong by getting to Emporia’s 2-yard line, but a decision by coach Randall Zimmerman to go for a touchdown on fourth down did not pay off as junior quarterback Xavion Felton’s throw to junior Logan Nabus was not successful.
After that drive, the Blue Jays offense was stagnant and could not muster much, including turning the ball over twice. But, their defense limited Emporia to only two field goals in the first half.
“(Emporia) did a good job (defensively),” coach Randall Zimmerman said in a radio post-game interview. “We were flat. It made it really tough.”
It was just before halftime when Junction City was able to get its first lead. With four second left in the second half with the ball spotted at Emporia’s 20-yard line, the Blue Jays went for a touchdown as Felton scrambled out of the pocket to the left side of the field and found senior wide receiver Josiah Delva wide open at the 6-yard line and he ran the rest of the way into the end zone.
“We were struggling executing in the passing game in the first half until about 55 second left,” Zimmerman said. “That was a nice spark when we were able to go down the field. Five plays in 50 seconds. (We were) able to put (the ball) in (the end zone) and had a little momentum in the second half.”
Junction City went into halftime with a 10-6 lead.
In the third quarter, the Blue Jays were able to run away with the game. On the opening possession, senior Quaveon Filmore picked off Emporia at Junction City’s 37-yard and returned the ball to the Emporia 26-yard line.
The Blue Jays capitalized off the turnover as a touchdown came from a 3-yard run from Felton from the shotgun for a 17-6 lead.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the visitors got another interception.
The Spartans went for a long pass play from their 11-yard line and it was underthrown and intercepted at Emporia’s 51-yard line and returned all the way to Emporia’s 3-yard line.
Felton suffered an injury on a rushing attempt to get a touchdown and in his absence, Zimmerman called a running play giving the ball to sophomore Cooper Bogenhagen as he was able to finish off the three yards for a touchdown to extend the lead, but a missed extra point kept the lead at 30-7.
“I am very proud of our kids. They really held on in the first half. They put them in tough situations offensively. We just kind of settled in and had a pretty decent second half.”
Sophomore Brock Bazan finished the game at quarterback for the Blue Jays after Felton’s absence.
Emporia marched down to Junction City’s 6-yard line, but another turnover from a fumble recovery sealed the win for the Blue Jays.
Zimmerman was in awe with the defensive performance
“Our defense was really on,” he said. “We got some interceptions. I am very proud of those kids. They stepped in there in those spots and were in the right position and they were ready to go.”
Zimmerman noted in his postgame interview that Felton should be fine. He just had to limp off the field due to a cramp.
The Blue Jays will travel to Highland Park (0-7) next Friday for their final game of the regular season until playoffs.