FAIRBURY, Neb. — Jacob Johnson is a running back and a defensive back for Fairbury, but Friday night he was briefly an assistant coach, too.
Johnson’s key interception and 179 rushing yards led Class C-1 No. 7 Fairbury to a 38-20 win against Auburn.
The game was tied midway through the fourth quarter with Fairbury at the Auburn 8-yard line. Quarterback Adam Wasserman threw an interception to his counterpart, Drew Dixon. Auburn moved out to its own 35, then Johnson read Dixon’s eyes on a long pass and snared the wayward ball.
Johnson then had a quick meeting with coach Kameron Lenhart.
“He said ‘I want the ball’ and we gave it to him,” Lenhart said.
Johnson had runs of 17, 6 and 24, and Wasserman scored from the 6 to put the Jeffs (4-0) ahead for good with 3:50 left. Wasserman threw for 136 yards and a touchdown, ran for two scores, kicked two extra points, punted twice and had a 92-yard punt return touchdown.
Dixon, who ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns, threw his second of three fourth-quarter interceptions with 3:30 to go.
“We made some uncharacteristically poor mistakes at times. Well, maybe mine were more characteristic,” Auburn coach Tony Janssen said. “I was hesitant calling those because we were going into the wind, but the wind had died down at that point and they were really loading the box.
“Looking at film tomorrow, I’ll probably wish I’d called something else.”
Auburn (3-1) equaled its win total from last season and is looking for its first playoff appearance since 2008. Its hopes for a breakthrough win, though, ended when Johnson scored his second touchdown with 1:47 left, putting Fairbury ahead 32-20.
“We knew all week this would be our toughest game, by far,” Johnson said. “It’s good to get a four-quarter win.”
Fairbury fell behind for the first time this season on Dixon’s touchdown run early in the second quarter. The Jeffs responded with a 67-yard drive — aided by a pass interference penalty on third down — to tie it 13-13. It remained that way until the third quarter when Auburn muffed a punt return, giving the Jeffs the ball 19 yards from the end zone. Wasserman scored three plays later.
Fairbury, which made the playoffs last year but is still searching for its first postseason win, won its first three games 177-30.
“The first three weeks were great,” Lenhart said, “but we need games like this if we’re going to win in the postseason.”
Auburn (3-1)………6 7 7 0—20
At Fairbury (4-0)….6 7 7 18—38
F: Wasserman 92 punt return (kick failed)
A: Ba. Darnell 53 run (kick blocked)
A: Dixon 11 run (Br. Darnell kick)
F: Johnson 8 run (Wasserman kick)
F: Wasserman 4 run (Wasserman kick)
A: Dixon 14 run (Br. Darnell kick)
F: Wasserman 6 run (kick failed)
F: Johnson 3 run (pass failed)
F: DeBoer 20 pass from Wasserman (run failed)
Rushing: A, Dixon 17-147, Darnell 16-115. F, Johnson 27-179.
Passing: A, Dixon 6-17-4 70. F, Wasserman 7-15-1 136.
Receiving: A, Minton 2-39. F, Johnson 2-53, C. DeBoer 2-40.