By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
Two scenes that tell at least part of the story of North DeSoto’s 64-29 win over Northwood Thursday night at Jerry Burton Stadium:
SCENE 1: Early in the second quarter and leading 21-14, North DeSoto found itself in need of a punt. That’s not a good thing for the Griffins and it showed. Nothing seemed to work as they attempted to get the punt off but never did. It ended up as a three-yard loss and gave Northwood the ball at the 15-yard line. If it seemed like they weren’t sure what to do, it’s because they probably weren’t. “We’ve only punted seven times all year,” said head coach Dennis Dunn. That’s how good the Griffins offense is.
SCENE 2: At the end of the game, with things well in hand, North DeSoto attempted to run the clock out … with nine minutes to go. But after running a fast-break offense all game, you could see the offensive players getting antsy to get to the line of scrimmage and run another play. The coaches on the sideline kept giving the “slow down” sign, but the body language of the players told a different story. With less than a minute to go, they just couldn’t help themselves and ended the drive in a familiar way – scoring on a 15-yard touchdown run. “We don’t do very well playing slow,” Dunn said.
If that’s what happens when the Griffins get uncomfortable, then watch out when they are comfortable. Which is what happened for almost the entire first half (except for that attempted “punt.”)
“They are so efficient,” said Northwood coach Austin Brown. “You can’t get out of your defense because they will pick you apart, especially when that quarterback (Luke Delafield) hits you on the seams.”
Nine possessions are fairly typical in a high school game. Four hundred fifty yards in a lot, even in this era of fast-paced football.
Most coaches would sign off on nine possessions and 450 yards in a game and take their chances.
But in a half? Two quarters? Twenty-four minutes?
That’s crazy talk, but when it gets rolling, that’s also what the North DeSoto offense is and it was on full display.
The win did a couple of things – it won the District 1-4A championship for North DeSoto and it also got the seven-losses-in-a-row-to-Northwood monkey off the Griffins’ back.
“Every time we have played them and won, we were able to play our style of game,” Brown said. “But tonight, it was their game and that’s not what we were made to do.”
“Our kids play with amazing tempo,” Dunn said. “We practice that and we emphasize it all year about playing fast and with tempo.”
It was pretty obvious that Brown knew what he was up against early on. After trading touchdowns to open the game, Northwood got an interception by Jamarcus Walker and converted that into a 14-7 lead, so the Falcons were out in front of the chase.
But after North DeSoto came back to tie it, Northwood was at the Griffins 11 with a chance to go back ahead. But on fourth-and-7, Brown knew he needed touchdowns instead of field goals. The fourth down pass was short of the goal line.
Northwood was stopped on two other fourth down chances. “That’s where they (the Griffins) have gotten better,” Brown said. “We haven’t been stopped on fourth down like that all year.”
It took North DeSoto all of five plays to go 94 yards, capped by a spectacular catch by senior Landry Wyatt on a 17-yard pass from Delafield to make it 21-14. It was part of an extraordinary night by Wyatt, who had six catches for 187 yards and four scores.
Northwood would tie it at 21-21, but North DeSoto was off to the races after that – a 60-yard pass from Delafield to Wyatt was a precursor to two more Griffins’ touchdowns in the second quarter and a 43-29 halftime lead.
The Falcons had given it their best shot for a quarter and a half, but once they got into catch-up mode, it just kept feeding the beast that is the Griffins offense.
“Nobody is going to stop that team in (non-select) Division II,” Brown said.
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NORTH DESOTO 64, NORTHWOOD 29
ND 14 29 7 14 – 64
NW 14 15 0 0 – 29
ND – Wyatt 28 pass from Luke Delafield (Dakota Denney kick)
NW – Keith 22 run (Alex Williams kick)
NW – Jalil Wainwright 8 pass from Hutson Hearron (Williams kick)
ND – Brian McMillian 1 run (Denney kick)
ND – Wyatt 24 pass from Delafield (Denney kick)
NW – Tucker McCabe 15 pass from Hearron (Williams kick)
ND – Wyatt 60 pass from Delafield (kick failed)
ND – Safety
ND – Kenny Thomas 9 run (Denney kick)
NW – Keith 10 run (McCabe run)
ND – Wyatt 49 pass from Delafield (Denney kick)
ND – Thomas 27 run (Denney kick)
ND – Cole Cory 17 pass from Delafield (Denney kick)
ND – Trysten Hopper 15 run (Denney kick)
RUSHING: ND (56-346), Hopper 29-156, Thomas 20-155, Delafield 3-36, McMillian 1-1, Wyatt 1-7, Lincoln Hooper 1-minus-3, Tucker Brewster 1-minus-6. NW (25-95) Johnson 6-30, Keith 9-24, Desmond Harris 1-30, Hearron 6-10, John Sneed 1-1, Team 2-minus-20.
PASSING: ND, Delafield 13-19-1-303-5 TDs, T. Hopper 1-1-0-12-0. NW, Hearron 21-30-1-217-2 TDs, Harris 1-1-0-6-0.
RECEIVING: ND, Wyatt 6-187-4 TDs, Cole Cory 4-80, Eli Procell 3-31, Delafield 1-12, Brewster 1-5. NW, Harris 8-80, Tucker McCabe 6-63-1TD, Jaxon Bentzler 5-51, Wainwright 2-23-1 TD, Hearron 1-6.