Both teams combined to have more than 25 penalties and the game lasted 3 hours and 35 minutes, but No. 3 Griffin (3-0 overall, 1-0 Div. B) fought through it all and made huge plays in the fourth quarter to lead it to a 34-33 win over No. 9 Jonesboro (2-1, 0-1) Friday evening at Memorial Stadium in the Bears' home opener.
Griffin now moves to 38-2 against Jonesboro in the series history.
Bears quarterback Jaquez Parks hit wide receiver Quay Mangham for the game-winning 17-yard touchdown pass with 5:42 left in regulation to give the home team the 34-33 lead, completing a rally from a 33-21 deficit in the second half. Parks was Mr. Clutch in the final stanza, running for a first down on the drive after fumbling the snap and dropping a nice pass into the arms of Mangham a few plays later on 4th down and 7 from the Jonesboro 17.
Griffin tried a 2-pt. conversion, but it was no good and the score stood at 34-33.
The Bears pinned their ears back on defense after that and harassed the Cardinals into a punting situation. Parks and offensive players Devontae Freeman, Malik Miller and Nic Williams, who couldn’t buy big plays in the third quarter, made huge plays in the game's final 3 minutes to salt the game away.
Jonesboro scored first, getting a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Mario Atkinson at the 5:25 mark of the first quarter. The two-point conversion was no good and the Cardinals led 6-0.
Griffin was unfazed, scoring the next 21 points. Malik Miller scored on a 30-yard touchdown run for the 7-6 lead, and on the ensuing possession Miller scored again, this time on a 26-yard interception return from his safety spot to give Griffin a 14-6 lead. Parks started the second quarter with a 53-yard TD pass to Jordan Colbert for the 21-6 lead.
The Bears tried an onside kick on the ensuing play but it didn’t go 10 yards and Jonesboro got the ball and the momentum after that, scoring 15 straight points to tie the game at 21-all. Patrick Petty scored two rushing TDs and Cameron Sutton scored a 2-point conversion run to tie the game at the half.