Prep football: D'Ernest Johnson carries Immokalee to shutout of Dunbar

The junior running back carries for 150 yards and a touchdown

Immokalee shuts out Dunbar

D'Ernest Johnson leads Indians to victory.

D 0 0 0 0 — 0

IMM 7 5 7 0 — 19

SCORING

First quarter

I— Jackson 59 pass from Celian (Velazco kick), 7:36

Second quarter

I—Velazco 26 FG, 1:36

I — Safety (fumble rolled out back of end zone), 1:16

Third quarter

I —D. Johnson 9 run (Velazco kick), 7:28

IMMOKALEE – With a short-handed offense, Immokalee turned to its reliable workhorse.

Junior running back D'Ernest Johnson ran for 150 yards on 26 carries, both season highs, to lead the Indians to a 19-0 victory Friday over Dunbar at Gary Bates Stadium. Johnson accounted for nearly all the Indians' yards in the second half and their only touchdown.

"The plan coming in was to give me the ball and get me going," Johnson said. "We've got some new plays, and the offensive linemen have been stepping up."

Immokalee (7-3) goes into the playoffs on a two-game winning streak. The Indians host Estero next week in a Class 5A regional quarterfinal, while Dunbar (8-2) plays at home against Orlando-Jones in 4A.

Johnson, often overshadowed by Immokalee's talented senior class, blossomed as a sophomore. He accounted for 968 yards of offense and 16 touchdowns in his second varsity season.

This season, as the Indians have struggled at times thanks in part to injuries, Johnson got off to a slow start. But after 332 yards and a 4.3 average per carry in the first six games, Johnson has doubled his season total the past four weeks.

After Friday's outburst, Johnson, who recently verbally committed to the Univeristy of Florida, has 389 yards in the last four games. That includes three 100-yard games, his only such performances of the season.

"I've been working real hard in practice and going real hard in games," Johnson said. "It's starting to show."

Johnson had all but nine of Immokalee's 159 rushing yards. He had 73 of the team's 77 yards in the second half.

The Indians gave the ball to Johnson on nearly half their plays Friday out of necessity. Backup quarterback Louinelson Celian played for the fourth straight game as starter Tshumbi Johnson's injured throwing shoulder still isn't 100 percent.

Immokalee also was without Jacky Marcellus, last year's total yards leader. Marcellus, who is headed to West Virginia, suffered a leg injury Oct. 12 against Cape Coral. Indians coach Jerrod Ackley said Marcellus will miss next week's playoff game.

Ackley said if Friday were a postseason game, Tshumbi Johnson would have played quarterback. Instead, the Indians stuck the senior, who recently committed to Cincinnati, at wide receiver.

Tshumbi Johnson, D'Ernest's older brother, ran the ball four times for 16 yards. Ackley said the older Johnson's shoulder is 80 percent and rapidly improving, and the coach expects him to return under center next week.

While D'Ernest Johnson was the only consistent player for Immokalee's offense, the Indians' entire defense played strong Friday. The Tigers came in averaging 38 points a game but were shut out for the first time this season.

Immokalee held Dunbar to 115 yards, a third of the Tigers' normal output. The Indians had five sacks, forced three fumbles and intercepted two passes. They also recorded a safety.

"This is our last year so we gotta ball out," said safety Xavier Richardson, who had one of the interceptions. "We're just playing relentless. We're not giving up any yards to anyone. That's what we have to do."

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