Jake Johnson scores four TDs in comeback

GEORGETOWN COLLEGE PHOTO

Georgetown College junior receiver Jake Johnson (center) caught four second-half touchdown passes to help the Tigers in their 28-point comeback win over Cumberland University. For the game, Johnson had 176 receiving yards on 11 catches.

No one left at halftime. Everyone held hope of seeing Georgetown College football pull off a magical finish to a difficult 2019 season.

Senior Day Georgetown College football supplied coach Bill Cronin with a rally for the ages. Tiger Pride was defined on the field as the Tigers (5-5, 4-3) trailing 35-7 with 25 minutes to play found another gear. GC rallied for a 42-35 win, leveling the team record at .500 and sending 22 seniors out in style.

"That's quite a comeback there," Cronin said. "I've been through a lot of games, but that was pretty good."

With 10 minutes left in the third, GC trailed four touchdowns. With 10 minutes left in the fourth, it was a tie ball game.

"I've been in some close games, but I don't think ever a comeback like that before," quarterback Zach Dampier said.

The winning score came when the sophomore found his favorite target junior Jake Johnson, four touchdowns and 176 yards most of which came in the second half rally, on a 19-yard strike with 6:34 remaining to give Georgetown its first and only lead of the day.

Cumberland University started the third up 28-7 with the ball. The Phoenix (5-5, 3-4) worked it down the field the first five minutes and when Telvin Rucker busted through for a 30-yard touchdown the day seemed over for the Tigers. It was the last time CU put together a meaningful drive. The visitors would punt, throw back-to-back interceptions and fumble the ball - giving way to five unanswered touchdowns as the game slipped away.

It started with a nearly six-minute, 12-play drive that covered 78 yards and was capped by Dampier to Johnson on their first touchdown.

"It definitely wasn't the best tone (at halftime). We realized we had to do some soul-searching, being the last game, how we wanted to be remembered and how we wanted our seniors to go out," Dampier said. "I think that made everybody step up. Coach Cronin was really fired up and got us all ready to go."

A quick three and out gave the Tigers the ball back with just less than three minutes left in the third quarter. Dampier engineered an eight-play drive that covered 52 yards and was finished off when Zach Babb took the ball on a three-yard sweep for a 35-21 game with six seconds left in the third.

Enter freshman Anthony Welsh. Cumberland actually was driving, gaining a first down and sitting on the 50, when Joseph Rushin tried to find Christopher Gatewood deep down Georgetown's sideline. Welsh read the pass, stepped in front - his first interception of the year - and the Tiger offense was back in business.

GC worked the ball 71 yards, 43 coming on a bomb to Johnson as he split two defenders and stumbled into the end zone for a one-score game.

"It's a little out-and-up play, we call it," Johnson said. "We had momentum, so we decided to take a shot. Zach threw it up there and decided to trust me, and I was able to make a big play."

Welsh then completed his highlight reel fourth quarter with a one-handed, falling out of bounds grab that gave the Tigers a short field.

Dampier did not let the opportunity slip by, as three plays later he hit Johnson from 10-yards out for score number three from that duo and more importantly a tie ball game.

Senior Tyler Selby provided the next set of fireworks when his strip-sack of Rushin gave Georgetown the ball on Cumberland's 31. He also recovered the fumble.

Four plays later, Dampier found Johnson for the 19-yard touchdown to complete the rally.

Plenty of time remained, but the defense held strong twice and a turnover on downs deep in CU territory with just less than a minute left allowed the Tigers to kneel twice and run out the clock.

"It's 1-0 for next season. We're starting off with a winning streak, and even more, sending off these seniors on a right note," Johnson said. "I don't know if we could have done it in any better of a way than coming back from 28 points. That's what made it so much more memorable."

Former Pulaski County High School standout Jake Johnson still holds three Kentucky High School receiving state records - career receptions (414), career receiving yards (5,614), and receptions in a season (139).

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