ORLANDO — Immokalee senior Tshumbi Johnson has been known to take gambles in his four years as a starting quarterback. He experienced both the highest of highs and lowest of lows in the Indians' 21-20 loss to Tallahassee-Godby in the Class 5A state championship game Friday.
In his last game with the Indians, Johnson seemingly set them up for failure when his late interception led to a Godby touchdown and 14-point deficit for the Indians.
Johnson quickly turned things around, bringing the Indians back with a pair of touchdown drives in the last five minutes, putting them in position to tie the game.
"That's how Tshumbi's been his whole career at Immokalee," Indians coach Jerrod Ackley said. "He gives you 30 (breathtaking plays) and then one play where you scratch your head. But he gives you everything he has."
With the Indians trailing the Cougars 13-7, Johnson threw an interception on a risky pass with 6:28 remaining.
Under heavy Godby pressure, Johnson scrambled toward his sideline and lofted the ball high in the air toward midfield. Charles McDonald came up with the interception as a group of Cougar defenders swarmed to the ball.
"I was under a lot of pressure," Johnson said. "I wanted to throw it in the middle, but there was no one there. I just tried to make a play."
The Cougars drove the ball from the Immokalee 31 to the end zone in just two plays, giving themselves a 14-point cushion after picking up the two-point conversion.
Johnson then led the Indians on a 1 minute, 18 second drive, leaving the Indians with enough time to put themselves back in the game.
Johnson's brother and Indian junior running back D'Ernest Johnson motivated him on the sideline after sensing his frustration.
"(D'Ernest) said, 'This is my last time playing with you bro. Give it all you have," Johnson said.
Johnson completed 4 of his 6 passes on the last drive of the game for 63 yards, and he rushed for 11 yards.
Johnson threw what could have been the game-tying touchdown to Xavier Richardson as time expired. However, a botched snap on the extra point attempt forced Johnson to throw the ball into the end zone in desperation. The Cougars intercepted it, sealing their win and the 5A championship.
Johnson, committed to the University of Cincinnati, threw for 301 yards and rushed for 60 yards in the game. He accounted for all three Indian touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions.
Johnson has been a star in Immokalee long before his up-and-down performance in the state finals. He first showed promising potential as a seventh-grader when he led his Pop Warner team to a national third-place finish.
After starting his first high school game as a freshman against Golden Gate in 2009, Johnson ended his career with 7,203 passing yards, 65 passing touchdowns and 27 interceptions. Johnson also accounted for 2,060 rushing yards and 46 rushing touchdowns in his career.
"He loves Immokalee, and he loves football," Ackley said. "I wouldn't trade him for anyone in the world. It was great having him as our quarterback."
2012 PREPZONE FOOTBALL: WEEK 16 (INDIANS ROAD TO STATE)
- Video: Immokalee drops heartbreaker to Godby
- Video: Top 10 plays of 2012
- Video: Indians welcome 2004 state champs (Archived Video)
- Photos: Immokalee vs. Tallahassee-Godby
- Your Photos: Immokalee Fan Photos
- Your Photos: Immokalee Band Photos
- Photos: Immokalee Football 5A State Practice
- Photos: Immokalee Football Championship Pep Rally
- Prep football: Immokalee loses heartbreaker, 21-20, in 5A title game
- Prep football: Indians QB Tshumbi Johnson has rollercoaster of game in loss
- Prep football: 5A title game filled with Division-I recruits
- Prep football: Immokalee's road to the state championship
- Chat archive: Cougars defeat Indians, 21-20
- Prep football: A breakdown of Godby Cougars
- Prep football: 2004 state champs inspired Immokalee's current title run
- Prep football: Indians try to avoid distractions on eve of state championship
- Prep football: Coach Kepple breaks down Immokalee O-line
- Prep football: Indians inspired by Coach Kepple, who fights rare disorder
- Prep football: Immokalee RB Marcellus out for title game, will undergo surgery after season
- Prep football: State title would fulfil childhood dream for Immokalee seniors
- Prep football: Defense 'the glue' that binds Indians' title hopes together
- Prep football: D'Ernest Johnson shakes off fumble, runs Immokalee to state title game
- Special Section: Learn more about Immokalee's Road to the State Championship Game
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