As the pocket around him collapsed and time quickly ran off the clock, Clark quarterback My’Quel Johnson stepped up in the pocket and saw a Spring Valley linebacker commit to stop a potential run.
Johnson didn’t run. Instead, he kept his eyes downfield and saw wide receiver Kenneth Cason break open near the end zone and lofted a 34-yard scoring pass to Cason to give the Chargers a 21-14 lead with 22 seconds remaining in the game.
The Chargers’ defense then held on one more time to close out their fourth straight win in the Southwest League opener for both teams.
“It felt sweet,” Johnson said. “I went here my freshman year and was told I couldn’t do it. Today was personal. I had to come out and prove something.”
When he came off the field, the senior signal caller reminded his coaches he always wants the ball in his hands.
“I don’t stress out, I put my chest out. Weight on my shoulders brings the best out,” Johnson said. “That’s exactly what that means.”
The Chargers (4-1, 1-0) are shaking up high school football in Southern Nevada, and while there are still plenty of areas to improve upon, the Chargers are learning how to win.
Spring Valley quarterback Frank Bartley gashed the usually stout Charger defense by rushing for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Bartley also passed for 116 yards.
But the Chargers ruined homecoming for the Grizzlies (1-2, 0-1) by picking off two of Bartley’s passes, and Roman Pickens returned a Spring Valley fumble 85 yards for a touchdown. Pickens’ touchdown gave the Chargers a 14-6 halftime lead.
“I’m extremely proud of this team,” Clark coach Ricky Pickens said. “We’ve been battling hard. Yes, we expected it because we practice hard. I just want to put this quote (in the newspaper), ‘There’s nothing like coming into someone’s backyard and drinking their lemonade.’ Tonight, we drank some lemonade.”
Despite Bartley’s ability to scramble for yardage, Clark’s bend-but-don’t-break defense stopped the Grizzlies on four straight red-zone possessions.
Bartley and the Grizzlies were finally able to score again late in the fourth quarter. Bartley did the honors on a 5-yard touchdown run, then ran in the 2-point conversion to tie the game with 1:57 remaining.
“Defense has been the staple all season long,” Ricky Pickens said. “And that’s what’s been making it happen for us. We’ve just been playing good defense. We work at it, we scout good. Everything we try to do has been on the defensive end, and it worked tonight.”
As far as keeping this magical run going, Johnson said the Chargers must stay hungry.
“Four wins or not, we still got that Clark reputation,” he said. “It’s time to prove everyone wrong. No one’s going to believe it but us. It’s us against the world.”