BATESBURG-LEESVILLE - Batesburg-Leesville quarterback K.J. Johnson has always been a running threat, but when teams take that away he is content to do his damage in the air and handing off to the backs.
But in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs, the junior ran for career-high yardage and nearly matched his season total for rushing touchdowns in leading Bateburg-Leesville to a 60-13 rout of Columbia.
Johnson, who came in with five rushing scores, scored four rushing touchdowns in the first half. Even with the Capitals putting seven and eight players in the box, Johnson made them pay with a read-option.
The Panthers (7-4) scored on five of their six first-half possessions and turned it over on the other series. Bateburg-Leesville had 294 of its 379 yards rushing in the first half.
"The line has been getting better, and K.J. usually hands the ball off a lot, but they forgot to tackle him this week," Batesburg-Leesville coach Courtney McInnis said. "He did a good job of reading the option and taking it when the hole was there."
Johnson finished with 219 yards on 11 carries to go along with his four rushing touchdowns. He threw for two second-half touchdowns as well.
"They have a very good team," Columbia coach Kemper Amick said. "They've had a lot of people out hurt, but they've got them back now and they do a good job of what they do."
Led by Jamal Bryant's three interceptions, the Panthers' defense forced six turnovers. Bryant has 11 picks on the season. He added a fumble recovery, and all six of the Columbia turnovers led to B-L points.
"Bryant has 11 interceptions and is overlooked for all the all-star games," McInnis said. "He has a knack for the ball and we did a good job of scoring after we got the turnovers."
Johnson opened the scoring with a two-yard run on an option to the right.
Ricky Adams scored B-L's second touchdown on a third-and-1 play from midfield. The Capitals crowded the line of scrimmage, and once Adams broke a tackle at the line he outran the Columbia defense for a 53-yard run.
Jamal Bryant, who set up the first drive with his ninth interception of the year, put the Panthers back in business when he recovered a fumble in Panthers territory.
Elliott Jeffcoat had a 33-yard run to set the ball inside the 10 before Johnson went to an option play to his right for a 9-yard touchdown.
"We geared up to stop the run but we just aren't a good tackling team," Amick said.
The Capitals (7-4) had a chance to get back into the game thanks to special team miscues by the Panthers. On a Columbia punt, the ball glanced off the leg of a B-L player and was recovered by Columbia at the Panthers' 18-yard line. Kevin Davis connected with Sergio Pyles on the next play for a touchdown.
The Panthers again fumbled on the ensuing kickoff but Columbia could not capitalize. Bryant intercepted Davis again, this time in the end zone.
"We had a chance to get back into the game right there but we just made too many mistakes," Amick said.
Four plays later, Johnson ran the option to his left and outraced the defense for a 74-yard scoring run.
Johnson added to his nearly perfect half with a two-minute offense. He completed four consecutive passes for 44 yards on the 10-play, 61-yard drive. He capped it off with another 2-yard run and a 32-7 halftime lead.
COLA 0 7 6 0 - 13
B-L 13 19 14 14 - 60
B-L - KJ Johnson 2 run (kick failed) 6:38
B-L - Ricky Adams 53 run (Austin White kick) 2:42
B-L - Johnson 9 run (kick failed) 10:19
C - Sergio Pyles 18 pass from Kevin Davis (McArtha Thompson kick) 7:31
B-L - Johnson 74 run (pass failed) 3:52
B-L - Johnson 2 run (White kick) :07
C - Casey Gladney 24 pass from Kevin Davis (run failed) 5:33
B-L - Adams 32 pass from Johnson (White kick) 2:36
B-L - Tyrelle Leaphart 23 interception return (White kick) 1:13
B-L - Taquan West 9 pass from Johnson (White kick) 8:20
B-L - Rod Waters 3 run (White kick) 1:15
First Downs 11 13
Rushes-yds 14-28 38-379
Passing yds 177 114
Comp-Att-Int 15-32-4 9-11-0
Punts 2-33 1-39
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 4-2
Penalties 3-15 9-70
Rushing - C0LA: Kevin Davis 2-5, DeErik Bradley 5-(-1), Roderick Weeks 7-24. B-L: Elliott Jeffcoat 15-77, Ricky Adams 5-58, K.J. Johnson 11-219.
Passing - COLA: K. Davis 14-28-4-163, M. Thompson 1-2-0-13. B-L: Johnson 9-11-0-114.
Receiving - COLA: Casey Gladney 7-74, Justin Metze 2-35, Christian Reed 3-30, Sergio Pyles 1-19. B-L: Taquan West 4-38, Antonio Butler 2-22, R. Adams 1-32.