Johnson's big night powers first-place Hoffman Estates past Conant
Hoffman Estates had a lot to play for Friday against visiting Conant.
It was senior night, the Mayor's Cup was up for grabs and maybe, most importantly, first place in the Mid-Suburban West was at stake.
And with both the Hawks and Cougars coming into the game with 2-0 West records, it was the home team that delivered an impressive victory.
The Hawks won 47-35 to improve to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the division.
"This feels great, and now we have to keep it going," Hoffman coach Tim Heyse said. "One of the things we've talked about is taking it one day at a time.
"In years past, we've been good, but we've kind of looked out to the long run. Now this season it's one day at a time and it's working. The kids are playing their hearts out."
Hawks senior Jashawn Johnson was impressive on offense against the Cougars with 217 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns, but it was his effort on defense from his defensive back position that turned the tide.
Johnson had 2 interceptions in the second half that stopped Conant drives and led to Hawk touchdowns.
"In my opinion, he's the best player in the conference," said Heyse of Johnson, "and he shows that game in and game out."
Conant moved the ball well on the ground in the first half and sprinkled in some clutch pass completions as well, and the Cougars trailed only 19-16 at halftime.
In the first two quarters, Dominick Mininni rushed for a 3-yard touchdown for Conant, teammate Lennon Johnson caught an 11-yard touchdown strike, and Gracie Rodriguez booted a 22-yard field goal.
Hoffman countered with a touchdown by Johnson (75-yard catch) and 2 rushing touchdowns by Yashua Pettis-Taylor.
And with the Hawks offensive line (Eddie Resendez, Edas Latanauskas, Laduan Jones, Burton Reed-Bonilla and Jorge Mathias) playing well, Hoffman extended the lead in the second half.
"Our offensive line is getting better," Heyse said. "Our starting right guard was out tonight, and his replacement, Jorge Mathias, stepped up and played awesome."
Hoffman opened up a double-digit advantage in the final two quarters behind a rushing touchdown from Petits-Taylor again, 2 touchdowns on the ground by John Stribling and a 42-yard pass play from Aiden Cyr to Johnson.
Conant countered with a 46-yard touchdown run by Ryan Kutella, an 8-yard scoring rush from quarterback Giuseppe Dugo, and another rushing touchdown by Mininni.
But the two outstanding interceptions by Johnson hurt the Cougars, especially the second one that came in the 4th quarter.
Conant trailed by 10 and was driving for another score, but Johnson stepped in front of the Cougars' receiver in the end zone for the defensive play of the game.
Mininni finished with 140 yards on the ground for Conant.
"We are growing as a team weekly," Heyse said. "We have a good mix of seniors, juniors and sophomores out here, and we're improving every week."