By Derrick Mahone
North Clayton linebacker Alex Johnson sometimes gets overshadowed by the play of teammate Amarlo Herrera, a highly recruited linebacker.
Friday, it was Johnson who came up with the big plays for the Eagles' in their 42-0 win over Mundy's Mill in a Region 4-AAAA contest at Southern Crescent Stadium.
Johnson recovered two first quarter fumbles, including returning one 48 yards for a touchdown. He also caused a fumble that led to a defensive touchdown for the Eagles, who improved to 2-0 heading into a key game against Lovejoy Thursday.
"Alex is a good player," Eagles defensive coordinator Max Wiltz said. "He just needs to stay focus. He gets overshadowed by Amarlo, but we preach team defense."
North Clayton held the Tigers (2-0) to only 121 of offense, 92 coming on the ground. It was the three fumbles that did Mundy's Mill in as they trailed 21-0 eight minutes into the game.
Mundy's Mill fumbled on its first three possessions of the game, as the Eagles converted each into a score.
On the fourth play of the game, Johnson took a fumble recovery 48 yards for a touchdown with 8:22 remaining in the first quarter. Johnson forced a fumble on the ensuing possession for Mundy's Mill, as Jack Ndem picked up the fumble and scored on a 45 yard run.
Two plays into the next possession, Johnson recovered a fumble with 6:25 remaining.
It only two the Eagles' six plays to score it first offensive touchdown of the game with Ladarrius Mathis scoring on a 5-yard run with 4:33 remaining.
"It was a good effort from the team," Johnson said. "Everybody was playing hard."
Offensively, Mathis rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a 7-yard scoring run in the third quarter as North Clayton took a 35-0 lead with 4:41 remaining.
They played the fourth quarter with a running clock as the Eagles played their substitutes. Michael Ross closed the North Clayton scoring with a 11-yard touchdown run with 9:41 remaining.
"Our last game, we came out slow," said Mathis, who has four touchdowns in his first two games. "We made some corrections in the offense. We came out a little more focused."
The Eagles scored on four of its eight possessions in the game. Two of North Clayton drives ended with interceptions as it only punted twice.
"We were working on some stuff," North Clayton coach Rodney Hackney said.
Mundy's Mill had 75 yards in penalties as three of its offensive drives ended with a punt. The Tigers also turned the ball over on downs twice and had four drives end with a fumble.
Herrera had a second quarter fumble recovery, which the Eagles converted into a touchdown. Damien Bester capped a 10-play, 52-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run.
"I think Amarlo and Alex challenge each other," Hackney said. "Alex played well out there. He is a strong player that has been through the heat. He is a big-time player when he wants to be."