SEMINOLE — Sparked by more than 200 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns from D.J. Johnson and a strong defensive effort, Gibbs defeated Seminole 40-22 on the road in a preseason kickoff classic.
In open space, Johnson was nearly impossible to contain for the Warhawks' defense. He posed a threat as a runner, receiver and a passer. Mar'quan Harris, who split time at quarterback with Johnson, paced the Gladiators' passing game with nearly 300 yards through the air and three two touchdowns as well.
Gibbs' team defense was just as impressive. Seminole could only muster 211 total yards and had 10 drives end in turnovers or three-and-outs. The Gladiators picked off Warhakws quarterback Andrew Schaedler three times, the last two for fourth-quarter touchdowns that turned a close game into a route. Chris Garza-McLean was the Warhawks' leading rusher, finishing with 69 yards on 15 carries.
Key play: With Seminole down by three and driving into Gibbs' territory in the fourth quarter, the Gladiators' Wayne Watson picked off Schaedler and ran the interception back for a touchdown, swinging the game's momentum and giving Gibbs a decisive two-score lead.
Star of the game: Making an impact on offense, defense and special teams, Johnson seemed on the precipice of a big play every time he touched the ball, including a wild play that saw him avoid several defenders while scrambling in the pocket before hurling a completion that set up a key touchdown. … The Gladiators only allowed one first down in the first half.
Final word: "He's a spark plug now. He's going to bring energy, and any time he touches the ball we have a chance to do something special. So whether it be in the slot or at quarterback, we're going to figure out ways to get the ball in his hands because we know what could possibly happen." — Gibbs coach Jon Thompson