Johnson advances in pigskin playoffs nail-biter over Como Park

Odds are heavily against the Johnson football season extending into next week, but the Governors at least have a chance to keep playing after ending the season of an intracity rival.

By about 9 feet.

J’Sean Jackson ran for 117 yards and a touchdown, Ali Farfan threw for a score, and Johnson held off Como Park 13-6 in a Class 4A, Section 3 playoff game Wednesday night.

Postponed Tuesday afternoon because of storms with lightning that could have resulted in a daylight issue, the game was moved back a day and played at Harding High School. Johnson does not have lights at its stadium.

The fourth-seeded Governors (6-3) will next play at top-seeded Hill-Murray (6-2), who had a first-round bye. Game time is 11 a.m. Saturday. Como Park, the section’s fifth seed, was beaten 56-6 by the Pioneers in last week’s regular season finale.

“We pulled it out and it’s on to the next one. Just excited for the opportunity to advance,” said coach Richard Magembe. “… The next two days have to be absolute perfect practices, no room for mistakes, no room for lackadaisical attitudes. Come ready to work.

“Two years ago, we were 1-7; last year we were 2-6 and then we had an incident where we didn’t get to participate in the playoffs, so for a lot of guys this is their first time. We’re really heavy with sophomores and freshmen that start on this team. We’re gonna go in there, we’re gonna give them hell and everything we got.”

Down 13-0, Como Park quarterback Ebisa Worika connected with Vontae Williams for a 15-yard touchdown with 3:46 left. The Cougars got the ball back with 1:06 remaining.

Boosted by a couple Johnson penalties, Como Park got to the 12 with 34 seconds left.

A completion to Matthew Corniea got half the needed distance. With the clock ticking down, Worika scrambled around the right side but was stopped in his tracks by Justice Moody at the 3. The clock hit 0:00 as the Cougars scrambled to the line.

“We needed to make plays earlier in the game and we just couldn’t do that. Unfortunately, we didn’t make plays until the end of the game,” said Como Park coach Kirby Scull, whose squad had 80 yards of offense (not including penalties) through three quarters.

He would have gone for the two-point conversion had the Cougars scored.

Como Park finishes 4-5 after a winless 2022 season, and a streak of 13 straight losses.

Two-way lineman Ben Sheldon wasn’t too concerned as Como Park nearly pulled this one out.

“We were topping them all game on the line of scrimmage, so I wasn’t worried about it,” said the Johnson senior.

What about that last drive?

“I still had faith in my team,” he said, smiling.

Up 7-0, a fourth-down interception by Jacoby Wiggins gave Johnson the ball at its own 45 early in the fourth quarter. Back-to-back 10-yard runs by Jackson and Moody moved the ball to the Como Park 35. Three plays later, Jackson made at least three sharp cuts en route to a 24-yard score.

On offense, a trio of sophomores — quarterback Ali Farfan along with receivers Moody and Anthony Stevenson — are the most dynamic players. Junior Isaiah Henderson and the senior Jackson get some tough yards on the ground.

Farfan hooked up for 17 yards to Justice Moody on a 3rd and 15 and connected with Stevenson for 14 more on the next play to end the opening quarter. Three plays later, Farfan rolled left and found Stevenson just inside the pylon for an 8-yard score.

Moody had a 75-yard opening half punt return to the end zone negated by a penalty.

“Since I’ve been a part of the program, he’s the best receiver we’re had,” said Magembe, who graduated from Johnson in 2004 and has been part of the coaching staff since 2011.

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