Southport’s Luke Johnston hurls six TD strikes in 62-21 rout
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By Al Stilley
Southsider Voice correspondent
Southport junior quarterback Luke Johnston’s pro football idol is former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
So when Johnston and his Cardinal teammates took to the field Saturday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium, they felt right at home in the third game of the four-game Big Rivals Night. Johnston must have believed he was stepping onto hallowed ground.
In “the house that Manning built,” Johnston put up record numbers against Perry Meridian in the Battle of Perry Township. The lanky signal caller dismantled the Falcons’ defense with six touchdowns strikes, 463 passing yards and 20-of-25 completions for a 62-21 triumph in the Conference Indiana opener for both teams.
“I did the easy part,” Johnston modestly said. “The O-line did all the work; I didn’t even come close to getting sacked. The receivers were wide open every time I threw to them.”
Four Cardinals shared in catching the touchdown passes: senior Cardell Tucker, two TDs, 66 and 73 yards; junior James Wright, two TDs, 44 and 3 yards; senior Aaron Ferguson, 11 yards; and junior Evan Higgs, 10 yards.
This was definitely a game to remember for the Cardinals (3-0) because it kept their regular season unbeaten streak rolling at 12 games.
“Offensively, we played about as well as we can play,” Southport coach Bill Peebles said. “It was a complete game for us – special teams and almost flawless on offense – but our defense struggled for a while.”
The Cardinals rushed for 117 yards en route to amassing 580 yards total offense. Running backs Kevin Wagner, 12 carries for 57 yards, and Tucker, nine carries for 48 yards, did most of the ground work.
Perry Meridian came out with a new offensive strategy and went toe-to-toe with the Cardinals during the first quarter.
The Falcons tied it at 7 on a 17-yard pass play from sophomore Tristen Tonte to junior receiver Brevin Lee. Southport retaliated in two plays with a 66-yard scoring pass from Johnston to Tucker.
The Falcons then went 59 yards in eight plays to score on Tonte’s 2-yard run. Two passes from Tonte to Ben Fleet for 38 yards fueled the drive. But three unanswered Southport TDs before the half broke it open.
Southport’s speed on offense and quickness on defense created all sorts of problems for the Falcons.
“They are very fast; we knew that going in,” Perry Meridian coach Scott Marsh said. “We moved some defensive personnel around, but that put is in a bind on the perimeter. We played well tackle to tackle but we knew it would be an issue once they started throwing.”
Marsh liked what he saw from the Falcons’ offense in the first half, particularly with the continued maturing of first-year varsity quarterback Tonte.
“Offensively we got better,” Marsh said. “We did some things well we hadn’t done earlier. We have to keep building offensively and keep stopping the run.”
The Falcons racked up 194 yards of total offense in the first half.
Hornets light up scoreboard again
Beech Grove’s offense stung an opponent for the second straight week.
The Hornets have scored 50 points in each of their past two games, defeating Park Tudor 50-36 Aug. 29 and Speedway 50-21 Saturday in Indiana Crossroads Conference games.
Sophomore quarterback Chase Andries threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns against Park Tudor. At Speedway, he had 302 yards of total offense with 174 yards passing and 128 yards rushing. LaMonte Richardson gained 120 yards on 20 carries.
The Hornets racked up 472 yards Saturday. They only led 22-14 at the half but broke the game open on a pair of Andries’ TDs in the third quarter.
Also in the ICC, Lutheran could not hang onto a 14-7 lead Friday over Triton Central after Andre Jones scored his second TD on a short run with 11 minutes left in the game. The Tigers scored on an 18-yard TD pass and a last-second 23-yard field goal by Samantha Dewey.