COLUMBUS — Griffin High cashed in an 8-yard scoop and score by Jeffrey Johnson with 1:26 remaining in a driving rain for a 21-14 win on Saturday afternoon against Northside-Columbus at Kinnett Stadium.
It happened when the Northside-Columbus punter dropped the snap, tried to quick kick it but whiffed with Johnson approaching to take advantage of the gift.
“Special teams was big for us tonight and the defense played another pretty ... good game,” said Bears head coach Kareem Reid. “We found a way to win and survive and advance.”
It was the second scoop and score of the game — the first came on a 21-yard fumble return by Jacob Hammonds in the second quarter — for Griffin (4-3 overall, 3-0 region), which won its third in a row to remain unbeaten in Region 2-AAAAA play heading into this Friday’s game at defending region champion Starr’s Mill (5-1, 2-0) while Northside-Columbus (4-3, 1-2) lost its second in a row.
Griffin broke a scoreless tie on a 3-yard run by sophomore quarterback Gerrod Pope — to cap a three-play, 90-yard drive that opened with a 78-yard run by Jordan Favors — to go up 7-0 after the first of three successful extra points on the day by Bears kicker Josh Galvez with 1:52 left to play in the first quarter.
Hammonds’ 21-yard scope and score, which came on the first play of a Northside-Columbus drive, put Griffin ahead 14-0 with 8:57 to play in the second quarter.
A light, but steady rain started to fall late in the first half when the Patriots put together their two best drives of the day to tie the game before the half.
Patriots quarterback Eliu McMoore capped a seven-play, 25-yard drive — that was set up when the Bears faked a punt and the punter was tackled for a 9-yard loss — on a 1-yard run as Northside-Columbus to make it a one-score game, 14-7, with 1:25 remaining in the half.
After Griffin went three and out on the ensuing drive, the Patriots — which opened a three-play, 63-yard drive with a 31 yard pass — took advantage of 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on the play to move the chains to the Griffin 17.
Two plays later, Malachi Hosley tossed a 15-yard halfback-option pass to a wide open Ashton Wilson to tie the game 14-all with :14 left in the half.
By the time the two teams came out of the locker room to start the second half, the rain had turned into a torrential downpour.
The teams played without either scoring again until the officials pulled them off the field and sent them to their respective locker rooms with 8:40 left in the game because of approaching lightning.
A 44-minute delay ensued until the teams came back out onto the field and were given four minute to warm up before the game resumed.
"I don't think it affected us, both teams have to deal with it," Reid said of the delay when asked if it hurt Griffin, which ultimately benefitted. "It gave us the opportunity ... to go in and make an adjustment."
"We actually put in a new punt block, because they were adjusting to it the way we were coming after their punts," said Reid. "And it actually paid off for us on the scoop and score."
Neither dented the scoreboard again until the decisive score.
“We got a lot flags tonight for whatever reason,” said Reid, whose team was flagged 11 times for 90 yards while Northside was flagged five times for 30 yards, “but we found a way to fight through and figure it out.”
It was the first meeting ever on the gridiron between the two schools.
BEARS 21, PATRIOTS 14
Griffin |7 |7 |0 |7 |— 21
Northside-Col. |0 |14 |0 |0 |— 14
Gr — Gerrod Pope 3 run (Josh Galvez kick), 1:52.
Gr — Jacob Hammonds 21 fumble return (Galvez kick), 8:59.
No — Eliu McMoore 1 run (Chipper Walker kick), 1:25.
No — Ashton Wilson 15 pass from Malachi Hosley (Walker kick), :14.
Gr — Jeffrey Johnson 8 fumble return (Galvez kick), 1:26.