By BEN JOHNSON
Johnny Deaton’s senior season has come to an abrupt halt.
Northeastern State’s senior signal caller left Saturday night’s season opener at Pittsburg State with what was called “an ankle injury or a severe bruise.”
Turns out, it was much worse than that.
NSU head coach Kenny Evans confirmed on Tuesday that Deaton suffered a fractured fibula and will be out at least a month — if not more.
“He’s out a minimum of five weeks and possibly for the whole season,” Evans told the Tahlequah Daily Press. “If he’s out for the season, we’ll file for a hardship and try get him back for next year.”
Thor Long, who replaced Deaton in Week 1, will now take over at the RiverHawks’ starting quarterback. Against Pittsburg State, Long was six of 16 for 103 yards. He also scored NSU’s lone touchdown, a 1-yard plunge into the end zone in the fourth quarter.
Following the RiverHawks’ 45-6 loss in southeast Kansas last weekend, Evans said Deaton was held out in the second half as a precautionary measure. Evans also said that NSU entered the first week of the season planning on getting Long some snaps at quarterback.
Now the 6-foot-1, 205-pound sophomore from Sherman, Texas, is the primary commander of the RiverHawks’ offense.
“This is just something I’ve been working for and working towards,” Long said after practice on Tuesday. “When I came in (on Saturday), my team believed in me, and I believe in them. Whenever I got out there in the game, we just tried to get some points on the board.”
Despite being elevated to starting quarterback, Long hated to hear Deaton’s prognosis.
“I felt bad for him,” Long said of Deaton, a former Oklahoma State transfer. “We’re in meetings [together] every day, and he’s a good guy. It’s a shame that he went down like that.”
As for Deaton, he’ll be relegated to a walking boot for the foreseeable future.
“Well walking in this boot is gonna take getting use to lol,” Deaton tweeted on Tuesday.
With Long as the starting quarterback, backup options would now consist of Cory Meaders or Prince McJunkins, a current wide receiver. Evans said an emergency backup quarterback would be Logan Andrews, a current tight end who played quarterback at Gore High School.