North DeSoto’s three yards and a cloud of artificial turf finally wore down the Fair Park Indians.
The Griffins, held in check for most of the first half, finally got their running game going as they came from behind for a 24-16 District 1-4A victory over Fair Park at Griffin Stadium Thursday night.
It was the fifth straight win for North DeSoto (6-4, 5-2) as the Griffins built momentum for the playoffs. Fair Park (6-4, 3-4) lost its fourth straight after opening the season 6-0.
The Indians will have to see if they make the playoff field, which will be announced on Sunday.
Fair Park actually had a chance to tie the score in the waning minutes as quarterback SeDerrick Smith marched the Indians to the Griffins’ four yard line. Smith’s 42-yard quarterback keeper was the big play of the 65-yard drive.
However, Smith’s desperation pass with 32 seconds left in the game was intercepted at the three by Damien Boone. The play happened on third-and-goal from the four.
“We had some big time interceptions,” said North DeSoto coach Scott Abernathy, who saw his team pick off Smith three times. “We worried about single coverage on No. 5 (CJ Thomas). They have some good athletes and coach (Mike) Greene does a good job.
“Fortunately, for us they don’t have the numbers and they have to play on both sides of the ball. That made a difference in the second half.”
North DeSoto actually took the lead for good late in the third quarter on a 25-yard field goal by Austin Barnes, who also had punts of 50 and 49 yards. His field goal capped a 74-yard drive on 13 plays that seemed to take the steam out of Fair Park. The 3-pointer put the Griffins ahead 17-16 with 1:21 to play in the third.
Following a pass interception by Emmanuel White on North DeSoto’s next possession in the fourth quarter, the Griffins used the punishing runs of freshman Delmonte Hall and sophomore Dennis Hall. Dennis went the final four yards off left tackle for the final 24-16 margin with 7:37 left in the game.
“We were able to make plays in our first six games and we just haven’t been able to do that in the last several games,” Greene said. “A lot of credit goes to them (North DeSoto). Their defensive line manhandled us in the second half.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Fair Park took control with a 83-yard drive. Terrence Demming capped the march with a four yard run and then added two more points on the conversion.
Getting nowhere on the ground, Abernathy called on sophomore quarterback Kyler Radford to play pitch and catch with Damien Boone, who promptly caught a 43-yard bomb in stride for a touchdown.