By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
It wasn’t pretty for Griffin, Friday night at Tara Stadium. But when you need a win, you need a win.
The Bears (5-1, 2-0 in subregion 4AAAA-Div. B), built a 28-0 on the strength of a strong defensive performance, and coasted to a 35-14 win over Riverdale (4-2, 1-1). Griffin fell from being ranked No. 2 down to No. 9 after losing to Stockbridge, 17-14, last week. But the Bears’ defense showed early on that Riverdale would never be able to muster enough points to win.
After forcing the Raiders to punt on the game’s first possession, Griffin took over at its 27-yard line and marched 73 yards on 11 plays to go up 7-0 after Devonta Freeman’s 2-yard touchdown run.
The Bears’ defense produced the game’s next score when linebacker Quintavious Jackson stripped Riverdale quarterback Greg Taylor, and fellow linebacker Nic Williams scooped up the ball and sprinted 47 yards to make the score 14-0.
On it’s next possession, Riverdale moved to ball to the Griffin 8-yard line after a 33-yard pass from Taylor to Rashad Canty. But Taylor was sacked twice and a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
But Riverdale had another opportunity immediately when Griffin quarterback Jaquez Parks’ pass was intercepted by Deon Jones at the Bears’ 29-yard line. But the Raiders couldn’t move any further than the Griffin 20 before turning the ball over on downs again.
Griffin was so confident that the Raiders couldn’t score on them, that the Bears tried a fake punt on their next possession on fourth-and-six at their own 24 yard line. The Raiders snuffed it out and took over on downs. But just as the Bears thought, Riverdale gained just three yards on the possession before turning the ball over again.
Griffin then put the game away for all intents and purposes on its ensuing drive, with tons of help from Riverdale. The Raiders committed three penalties – roughing the passer, face mask and pass interference – which aided the Bears in marching 79 yards in just seven plays. Parks hit Freeman with a swing pass in the left flat, and the junior danced into the endzone to push the lead to 21-0 just before the end of the first half.
The Bears really put the game away on their first drive of the second half, when they took advantage of a kickoff that sailed out of bounds. Four plays later, Parks hit Freeman in nearly the same spot as their first scoring hook up, this time for 12 yards and a 28-0 advantage.
Griffin 14 7 7 7 35
Riverdale 0 0 8 6 14
G – Devonta Freeman 2 run (Alexis Rivera kick)
G – Nic Williams 47 fumble return (Rivera kick)
G – Freeman 16 pass from Jaquez Parks (Rivera kick)
G – Freeman 12 pass from Parks (Rivera kick)
R – Safety (Punt blocked out of endzone)
R – Kamhad Magwood 16 pass from Greg Taylor (pass failed)
R – Ti’Keem Cooper 8 pass from Taylor (pass failed)
G – Trey Willis 26 pass from Parks (Rivera kick)