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Football: Panthers' offense overpowering

DeWitt's Johnson throws 3 TD passes in victory

1:00 AM, Sep. 27, 2013 EDT

Joshua Borta (11) of DeWitt runs through a tackle attempt by Lee Mott. More photos at lsj.com / Kevin W. Fowler/LSJ


In consecutive weeks, DeWitt showed why it is the favorites in the CAAC Red.

One Friday removed from handing Ionia its first loss of the season, the Panthers went on the road again and scored 28 unanswered points to beat Haslett, 35-7, on Friday night.

DeWitt (5-0, 3-0) used a dominant passing attack to get some separation in the first half, then went with a punishing running game to keep Haslett's offense off the field in the second half.

"I think that's the difference between us and the past few years is we do have the ability to run the ball pretty well,'' DeWitt coach Rob Zimmerman said. "When we needed to tonight we put a couple drives together and just pounded it and chewed up the clock.''

Junior quarterback Jacob Johnson threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns with all three coming in the first half.

He found senior Chris Ruby for the game's first score on a 20-yard touchdown pass just 2:45 into the game.

The Vikings (3-2, 2-1) answered with a 2-yard touchdown run from junior Lee Mott with less than a minute left in the first quarter.

But Johnson was just too much for the Haslett defense.

He lofted a 33-yard touchdown pass to senior Josh Borta, just over the reach of a Haslett defender, to put DeWitt back ahead in the second quarter.

With less than a minute remaining in the half, the two connected again for a 50-yard pass on another beautiful throw from Johnson. Johnson then found Ruby for a second 20-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left.

Before the DeWitt touchdown, Haslett was driving for a score that would have tied the game at 14, but a fumbled exchange was scooped up by DeWitt's Connor Grice.

"It'd been a great first half up to that point," Haslett coach Charlie Otlewski said. "We're driving. We've got a lot of momentum, doing good things and then we have a late snap by the center. They time a stunt in the same spot and we turn the ball over. Instead of being potentially 14 all at the half or, at worst 21-14, and still have a fair amount of momentum, we had none."

It was tough for Haslett to get any back with DeWitt controlling the clock in the second half.

The Panthers capped a pair of time-consuming drives with short touchdown runs from Ben Heinritz and John Lippert in the third quarter.

"We can go the first half and get up early and then our guys up front had a great game," Ruby said after catching three passes for 68 yards and two scores. "They were able to get other guys off the line and get us first downs when we needed it and we were able to run that clock out just like we wanted to."

The DeWitt defense has now allowed just 14 points in its last four games.

"This is my third year and I think this is the strongest defensive team we've had," said Ruby, who also helps hold down the defensive secondary. "We play so together. ... You know everyone is going to do their job and not try and be that number one guy and everyone knows what they're doing. It makes it so much easier."

Borta had five catches for 160 yards and a touchdown for DeWitt.

Senior Graham Riley had 61 yards rushing and caught three passes to lead the Vikings.




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