MANKATO — Cory Johnson watched a lot of football games between Mankato West and Mankato East growing up, and he looked forward to getting out there at Blakeslee Stadium, under the lights, playing well and winning.
On Friday, the West junior scored four times, leading the Scarlets to a 55-0 victory over Mankato East in the 41st annual Jug game. It was the eighth straight victory in the regular-season series and helped West close the deficit to 22-19 in intracity games.
"I've wanted to play in this game since I was little," Johnson said. "It feels great to play well and get a win. It was fun."
Johnson is Mankato West's game-breaker, a speedy runner and receiver capable of scoring on almost any play. He scored by rushing, receiving and returning, zipping his 150-pound frame through the Cougars' defense and racing to the end zone.
"Every Sunday, we work on ways to get (Johnson) in space," West coach Mark Esch said. "We have to think of ways to get him the ball."
Quarterback Ryan Schlichte showed off some speed and power with two touchdown runs in the first quarter. On the first, he burst up the middle and out-ran defenders for a 67-yard score. On the next drive, Schlichte bulled in from 9 yards, and Andrew Opsal's PAT made it 14-0.
That just opened the defense up for Johnson and the rest of the Scarlets.
"We have enough threats that you can't just key on one of us," Esch said.
Once West got the two-touchdown lead, the field opened up as Travon Jones scored on a 29-yard run, Johnson took a short pass and turned it into a 67-yard score, and Johnson ran through the middle for a 53-yard touchdown as West led 35-0 at halftime.
West had 327 yards in the first half, with 209 yards rushing. Schlichte rushed for 112 yards and passed for 118 yards in the first half. The Scarlets also committed 12 penalties, three for pass interference.
Johnson opened the second half with a 41-yard punt return, and he scored his fourth touchdown on a 9-yard run late in the third quarter for a 48-0 lead. He ended up with 71 yards rushing, 81 yards receiving and the long punt return for 193 all-purpose yards. Last week against Rochester John Marshall, Johnson had 228 all-purpose yards, with 166 yards rushing.
"The coaches have drawn up some good plays for me,"Johnson said. "We've been working hard in practice, and a lot of playrs have been doing well."
Backup quarterback Zach Annexstad scored in the fourth quarter for the most lopsided game in Jug history.
East had only 13 yards of offense in the game as West dominated the line of scrimmage.
"We were out-hit, out-run, out-physicaled," East coach Eric Davis said. "They were better in every phase. They brought a lot of pressure on almost every play, and we knew it would be tough to run against them."
West (4-1) plays at home Friday against Rochester Century, while East (1-4) is also at home against Winona.