"Early on we made a lot of mistakes, a lot of penalties," said 12th-year Bears head coach Steve DeVoursney, whose team was penalized six times for 40 yards in the first half alone on a night where they were flagged three more times in the second half for another 25 yards.
Before Griffin's offense even took the field, the Bears were trailing 6-0. Newnan put together an 11-play, 62-yard capped by first-year starting quarterback Bailey Bryant's 11-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Morrow. The sophomore finished the night completing 10 of 15 for 154 yards and a touchdown without an interception in his first varsity start ever.
While Griffin sputtered, going three and out on its first two possessions, things got worst on the third possession when second-year Bears starting quarterback Jaquez Parks, a junior, dropped back too far on a pass play deep in his own zone and inadvertently stepped out of the back of the end zone for an automatic Newnan safety that put the Cougars ahead 8-0 on the last play of the first quarter.
Parks atoned for his mistake on Griffin's next possession as he ripped off runs of 19 and 12 yards and tossed a 34-yard pass to Keyston Fuller — the game's leading receiver with three receptions for 106 yards — to bring the ball to the Newnan 5-yard line. Four plays later on fourth-and-goal, he recovered after colliding with the fullback, rolled out and was nearly sacked, but, from the clutches of a defender, somehow managed to get off a 2-yard touchdown pass to Trey Willis. It capped a 12-play, 69-yard drive.
Then Parks, who ended the night with a game-high 187 yards on 14-of-24 passing and two interceptions in addition to rushing nine time for a team-high 71 yards, worked a little more of his magic, tossing a two-point conversion pass that was deflected but that Devontae Freeman managed to come up with to leave the Bears and Cougars knotted at 8.
Griffin then took the lead when senior safety Richard Wilder recovered a fumble on Newnan's ensuing possession and returned it 56-yards to the Newnan 3-yard line. Parks provided Griffin its only lead of the night, scored on a run up the middle on the first play to give the Bears a 14-8 lead with 4:56 left to play in the second quarter.
Willy Rivera's extra point attempt missed when it hit the left goal post and defelected down to the ground. Neither team scored the rest of the half, though Griffin mounted a drive to the Newnan 35 that ended with an interception inside the 5 with no time left on the clock.
The starting units played the third quarter before being replaced by the backups.
"We've just to fine tune a lot of things, but that's just about where you're supposed to be this time of the year," said DeVoursney, whose team doesn't play again until the season opener Aug. 31 at Dutchtown.
Other news, and notes from around the area:
WAY TO MAKE IT UP: In the fourth quarter of the Spalding-Pike County scrimmage, freshman quarterback Grant Moore threw a perfect pass to sophomore wideout Jericho Thompson in the corner of the end zone, but Thompson slowed down and didn’t catch the ball. A few plays later, the two hooked up for the same play and this time Thompson kept running and caught Moore’s pass for the final Jags TD of the game.
RUNNING ROOKIES: Spalding may have a good future at running back if freshmen Antonio Puckett and Xavier Rossell keep playing like they did Friday against Pike’s youth. Both youngsters had several nice runs for first downs, making nice cuts to get outside and also getting the tough yards through the middle.
YOUNG DEVO: Pike County senior tight end/linebacker/punter Jess DeVoursney, son of Griffin High’s head coach Steve DeVoursney, had a good and a bad moment Friday against Spalding. He caught a 31-yard pass from his QB Tyler Gregory in the first half, which led to a TD for the Pirates later in the drive. In the second half, DeVoursney mishandled a bad snap on a punt and wasn’t able to kick the ball. Three Jags — including senior Garrett Bell — tackled DeVoursney for the turnover, which eventually led to Jags tailback Ben Allen’s second TD run of the night.