C.A. Johnson had a chance to make a statement Friday night against perennial up-and-coming Hunter-Kinard-Tyler.
The Green Hornets claimed a signature victory over Blackville-Hilda last week, and with a win over the Trojans, they would have earned their first home playoff game since 1986.
But it wasn't to be. H-K-T used a big-play passing attack to roll to a 30-14 victory at Bolden Stadium.
"We're disappointed but not dejected," C.A. Johnson coach Jerry Jackson said. "We told the guys we were real proud of them, loved them and we've done some good things this year and don't let this dampen it. We still have a chance to play next week and beyond."
The loss gives the Green Hornets a 7-3 record, 5-2 in Region 4-A; they will open the playoffs next week with a road game.
The Trojans (8-2, 6-1) finished second behind Williston-Elko in Region 4-A and will open the playoffs at home.
The damage from the H-K-T passing game led to three short scoring runs in the first half. Denzel James had two from 1 yard in the opening quarter, and quarterback Montaurus Gleaton had a 7-yard scramble late in the half.
Gleaton threw for 162 of his 206 yards in the first half. He averaged 18 yards a completion and had four passes of over 26 yards. He capped his night with a 14-yard scoring pass to Will Bond in the fourth quarter. D'Twane Fulmer was his favorite target with six catches for 94 yards.
But H-K-T was flagged 20 times and dropped several passes that left fourth-year coach Jermaine Derricott unhappy.
"At this point of the season, you take any victory, but it was sloppy," the former S.C. State standout said. "We dropped to many balls and made mistakes that are uncharacteristic of us. We have to go back to the drawing board before next week."
The Trojans took the opening kickoff and scored on James' first 1-yard run.
C.A. Johnson answered on its opening possession.
Tyrick Adams took a handoff and was pinned on the sideline before reversing field and bolting 50 yards for the score.
But that was all the offense the Green Hornets could muster until late, when the outcome was decided.
On 19 other running plays in the opening half, they were held to 5 yards. They finished with 64. Add in the fact C.A. Johnson lost four players to injury during the game, and you can see why it was a long night for the team.
Green Hornets quarterback Jonathan Goodman was harassed often and was 6-for-24 with two interceptions, but he did throw a 68-yard scoring pass to Kendele Wilson in the fourth quarter.
"We wanted to run the ball and keep it away from them, but after we fell behind weren't able to do that," Jackson said. "We got flustered and, bottom line, didn't make enough plays. We had some balls go off our hands, and you have to make those plays."
H-K-T 16 6 0 8 - 30
CAJ 6 0 0 8 - 14
HBK - Denzel James 1 run (James run) 8:24
CAJ - Tyrick Adamson 50 run (run failed) 6:07
H-K-T - James 1 run (Darren Stroman run) :14
H-K-T - Montaurus Gleaton 7 run (pass failed) 1:41
H-K-T - Will Bond 14 pass from Gleaton (D'Twane Fulmer run) 6:14
CAJ - Kendele Wilson 68 pass from Jonathan Goodman (Adamson run) 5:52
First downs 13 11
Rushes-yards 22-118 29-64
Passing 231 196
Comp-Att-Int 14-33- 2 6-24-2
Punts-avg. 1-37 3-28.1
Fumbles-lost 1-0 4-1
Penalties-yards 20-145 8-54
Rushing - H-K-T: Denzel James 8-31, Darren Stroman 5-50, Montaurus Gleaton 8-29. CAJ: Jonathan Goodman 16-42, Tyrick Adamson 7-59, Team 3-(-41), Kendele Wilson 1-4.
Passing - H-K-T: M. Gleaton 13-30-2-206. CAJ: J. Goodman 6-24-2-196.
Receiving - H-K-T: D'Twane Fulmer 6-94, D. James 1-31, D. Stroman 2-57, Troy Jones 3-35, Will Bond 1-14. CAJ: D. Wilson 2-109, Demarcus Moyd 2-53, Kelvin Greene 1-25, Wilbur Jones 1-9.