Lafayette's Marlon Johnson, an electrifying kick returner, has been unplugged with a sore ankle the last few weeks.
But Johnson's special ability crackled again Friday night as his long punt return for a touchdown sparked Lafayette past No. 23 Clark County 21-9 at Tates Creek.
Last season Johnson returned two kickoffs for scores, and in the Generals' opener this year he ran back a punt and a kickoff for TDs.
The speedy senior, his ankle pretty much healed, spun his magic again Friday night.
With Lafayette trailing 9-7 early in the third quarter, Johnson picked up a dying punt off the turf near the left sideline, turned on his jets toward the right sideline, found an open field and went 76 yards for a TD.
Did Johnson think twice about picking up the ball?
"No," he said. "They didn't come up on me so I scooped it up, ran with it and went for the touchdown. It's a talent God gave me, and I've gotta use it."
Lafayette Coach Carl Hayden didn't second-guess Johnson's decision to go get the ball. "He's tested and he's proven," Hayden said. "We all trust him and he did what Marlon Johnson does. He made a big play."
While Marlon Johnson was providing the flash, his younger brother Bubba was providing the muscle on both sides of the ball.
Bubba, a thickly built junior, helped spark a strong defensive effort by the Generals, who stymied a Clark County offense that averaged 42 points while winning its first three games. On offense, Bubba carried 19 times for 102 yards and two TDs.
"Lightning and thunder," Bubba said of the Johnson brothers. "He's the fast one, and I'm the boom-boom."
Lafayette's defense lowered the boom on the Cardinals, with Andy Hampton, Justin Carr, Jalen Wilkerson and Trey Benson helping Bubba.
Clark County took an early 9-0 lead on Andrew Dini's quarterback sneak and Dini's 25-yard field goal. But the Generals' defense stuffed the Cards on fourth-and-one near midfield midway through the second quarter.
Lafayette capitalized, driving 50 yards and scoring on Bubba's 6-yard run to make it 9-7.
After looking sharp early, Clark County's offense spun its wheels with penalties and dropped passes.
One costly flag wiped out a long punt return by Darius Skinner in the closing minutes. Instead of getting the ball at the Lafayette 35, the Cards were backed up to their own 8.
They wound up losing yardage from there, and when a fourth-down pass fell incomplete, the Generals took over at the 1 and Bubba added an insurance TD.
Clark County Coach Paul Columbia said his team had its chances, but penalties, spotty special team play, and dropped passes were too much to overcome.
"Lafayette played a good game and made the plays, and we didn't," he said.
Dini wound up throwing for 167 yards. Tight end Corey Rogers had five catches for 70 yards. Pokey Harris led the ground game with 79 yards on 14 carries.
Clark County 6 3 0 0— 9
Lafayette 0 7 7 7—21
CC—Andrew Dini 2 run (run failed). CC—Dini 25 field goal. L—Bubba Johnson 6 run (Matt Green kick). L—Marlon Johnson 76 punt return (Green kick). L—Bubba Johnson 2 run (Green kick).
Records—Clark County 3-1; Lafayette 3-2