PLAIN CITY — Jonathan Alder’s dynamic duo of Graham Johnston and Austin DeHart proved to be too much for the Waynesville Spartans on Friday.
The Pioneer seniors combined for 355 yards on the ground and five touchdowns to lead Jonathan Alder to a 45-23 win over the visiting Spartans in the first round of the Division IV, Region 16 playoffs.
Johnston got the Pioneers (10-1) started with a 56-yard touchdown run on Alder’s third play from scrimmage. The Pioneer quarterback finished with 200 yards rushing on 20 carries.
“Graham is our leader — he takes the game into his hands,” Jonathan Alder coach Steve Coate said. “But the nice thing is, if a defense focuses too much on him, we’ve got No. 27 who can do some damage, too.”
That would be DeHart, the Pioneer tailback who did most of his damage in the second half, scoring three touchdowns and finishing with 155 yards rushing on 16 carries.
Waynesville stayed within striking distance for most of the first half, answering two Pioneer scores with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Luke Creditt to Ryan Potter to make it a 14-7 game.
But, two late turnovers in the second quarter led to 10 points by Alder in the final minute of the half to make it a 24-7 game.
“That was a big momentum shift right there,” Waynesville coach Brandon Philpot said. “We had some things not go our way and we didn’t make enough plays to make things go our way.
“But, yeah, stretching that lead to 17 points before the half let them relax a little bit and put some more pressure on us.”
The Pioneers scored on the opening drive of the third quarter — on a 30-yard run by DeHart — to make it 31-7.
Creditt completed 15-of-32 passes for 269 and three touchdowns but also threw three interceptions. Chase Gianattasio was Creditt’s top target, catching nine balls for 169 yards and a score.