By JERRY BYRD, Journal Sports
It didn’t matter that the District 1-4A title battle between heavyweights North DeSoto and Northwood was moved up to a 5:30 p.m. start to beat bad weather.
Fans in both Stonewall and Keithville got the message as spectators parked cars and trucks on any spot or piece of grass in DeSoto Parish between Griffin Stadium and Highway 171 well before the early kickoff.
The Falcons and Griffins collisions, sport-by-sport, never seem to disappoint, and the 2022 football version was no different as Austin Brown’s Falcons came back from a 13-6 halftime deficit to spoil North DeSoto’s perfect season with a 20-19 win.
All it did was forge a tie for the district championship between the teams, just as Northwood envisioned way back after its early season loss to Huntington. The Falcons flew to 8-2 overall with the upset, and NDHS fell to 9-1, both with 6-1 league marks, one ahead of the third-place Raiders.
The Northwood approach worked.
“We just thought that nobody had kept swinging on them,” Brown said. “We got down 13, but we knew the game plan was to keep swinging. Jab, jab, jab. We reminded them at halftime, the game plan is still here. We took their best punches, and we’re still in the game, now go make them tap out.”
The one delivering the most blows in the second half was Falcon senior running back Quintavion White, who accounted for all three Northwood touchdowns with runs of 6,11, and 8 yards. The latter two came during a momentum-changing third quarter.
Northwood’s third-quarter swing started with plays on both special teams and defense. The Northwood punt team downed a punt on the North DeSoto 1. On the Griffins’ first play, Falcon defensive lineman Taderius Collins tackled North DeSoto’s John Lewis in the endzone for a safety to close the Griffin lead to 13-8.
Northwood received the ball from the Griffins and went 47 yards on five plays with White getting his second touchdown of the night from 11 yards out. That score gave the Falcons their first lead of the night with 6:52 remaining in the third quarter.
It was at that point in the game when the much-anticipated rain began to fall, and it was not good timing for the Griffin offense, which was poised to put North DeSoto back on top before a Griffin fumble was scooped up by Northwood’s Camron McCullough.
That was followed by more ground and pound from the Falcons, except on a fourth-and-4 from the North DeSoto 27 when Northwood quarterback Mason Welch found Desmond Harris on a middle screen for 11 yards. White finished the drive with an 8-yard run with 2:21 remaining in the third quarter to extend Northwood’s lead to 20-13.
“We had a chip on our shoulders,” Welch said. “We were the underdogs coming into this game. We haven’t played like we should have all year long. We knew that if we just came out and played our game of football and we trust our training in the offseason and we trust the game plan these coaches put on us, be the more physical team and have no quit in us that we would enjoy victory.”
But the Griffins, who finished the season with a 9-1 record, didn’t tap out as Brown had hoped.
Lake Bates returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but it was called back due to a holding call on the Griffins’ return unit.
Freshman quarterback Luke Delafield connected with wide receiver Cole Cory on passes of 35, 13, and 15 yards to set up North DeSoto’s John Lewis, who disappeared in the mass of offensive and defensive lineman before breaking through for a 12-yard scamper to bring the Griffins within a point of the lead.
The extra point attempt was wide left.
North DeSoto had a final chance on their one meaningful drive of the scoreless fourth quarter. The Griffins reached the Northwood 18 and, on fourth-and-1, they were penalized for a false start. The pass on fourth-and-6 was incomplete, and Northwood took over and held the lead it would keep.
In the first half, North DeSoto running back Brian Banks scored the Griffins’ first touchdown of the game on a 2-yard run with 7:18 to play in the first quarter. A pass on the two-point conversion failed.
The Griffins extended the lead in the second quarter when Delafield found Sam Odom on fourth-and-8 from nine yards out. Landon Falls’ point after kick gave the Griffins a 13-0 lead.
Northwood would answer with an eight-play 65-yard touchdown drive capped by White’s first score of the night.
“I love my O-line,” White said. “They were amazing. They block with their heart.”
White said that his coach told the Falcons to keep fighting at halftime.
“He (Brown) told us that we’re not down,” White said. “Keep our heads up. We were only down six points. Normally, they have a running clock by halftime. They’ve had seven running clocks all season. We were like, we’re going to come play with our hearts, and we’re never going to give up.”
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Northwood 20, North DeSoto 19
Score by quarters
Northwood | 0 | 6 | 14 | 0 | – 20
North DeSoto | 6 | 7 | 6 | 0 | – 19
ND – Brian Banks 2 run (Pass failed)
ND – Sam Odom 9 pass from Luke Delafield (Landon Falls kick)
NW – Quintavion White 6 run (kick failed)
NW – Safety
NW – Quintavion White 11 run (kick failed)
NW – Quintavion White 8 run (pass failed)
ND – John Lewis 12 run (kick failed)