The George Scott Ring of Honor inductees Ray DeCola, Bob Brenning and Mike Simpson owned the pregame Friday night, but Michael Johnson and his London Red Raiders ran circles around the stadium in a 42-30 victory over the Hillclimbers in the season opener.
London’s Skylor Calhoun scored his team’s first TD of the night on a 3-yard run with 9:13 to play in the first quarter. Miller Kronk added the extra-point kick and the Red Raiders led, 7-0.
Michael Johnson started to give the Hillclimbers fits as the minutes drained away in the first quarter. Johnson rushed 16 times for more than 200 yards in the first half alone and scored the Red Raiders’ second touchdown on a 58-yard bolt with 3:50 remaining in the first quarter. Kronk’s PAT was accurate again and London owned a 14-0 lead.
Urbana scored its opening TD when quarterback Levi Boettcher connected with Alex Lohnes for an 80-yard strike. Cooper Johnson threaded the PAT through the uprights and the Hillclimbers were on the board, 14-7, with 2:13 to play in the first quarter.
London stalled on its next drive and punted Urbana to its own 23. Three plays later Boettcher connected with Max Niswonger for a 71-yard TD with 9:01 left in the second quarter. Johnson’s extra-point kick was accurate and Urbana evened the score, 14-14.
Unfortunately for the Hillclimbers, the tie was short-lived.
On London’s next play from scrimmage, Johnson tore downfield 72 yards into the end zone followed by another Kronk PAT. The Red Raiders were dictating the tempo once again, up 21-14.
London’s final score of the first half was courtesy of Johnson after a sustained drive from the Red Raider 40 capped off by a 10-yard TD run. After Kronk’s PAT, London cruised into the locker room with a 28-14 lead.
Urbana set the tempo on the opening drive of the second half after a big kickoff return from Lohnes set the Hillclimbers up at their own 42. A series of running and passing plays moved the ball steadily toward the goal line, but London limited Urbana to fourth down at the 8-yard line. Johnson teed up and nailed a 25-yard field goal to narrow the visitors’ lead to 28-17.
London answered quickly on its next drive when QB Josh Handley threw a TD pass to Zane Foucht that streaked along the UHS sideline for a 78-yard play. The extra point was good and London bolted further ahead, 35-17, with 8:47 to play in the third quarter – a margin that held until the final period.
The Red Raiders marked the fourth quarter with a 30-yard rushing TD from Johnson with 10:38 left to play followed by a PAT for a 42-17 lead.
Urbana narrowed the score before the end of the game on a 1-yard scoring run by Mitch Moyer that was set up by a big gainer pass from Boettcher to Devin Trent. Urbana’s PAT failed, and London led, 42-23.
The Hillclimbers recovered an onside kick on the ensuing play and the home team had another shot at the end zone. Boettcher completed a 9-yard TD pass to Trent with 3:33 to play to narrow the deficit to 42-30 after the PAT.
Urbana’s next attempt to grab an onside kick failed when London smothered the threat.
Urbana travels to Piqua next Friday night.
Brenda Burns can be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1771 or on Twitter @UDCBurns.