Although Northside was able to move the ball offensively in last week’s win against Greenwood, there was still room for improvement in the passing game.
Against a pass-happy Van Buren team, the Grizzlies were able to air it out.
Quarterback Derrick “Deuce” Wise threw for 190 yards and two touchdowns and even caught a TD pass of his own in the first half as Northside built a 32-14 lead by halftime. The Grizzlies then went on to a 46-21 win Friday at Blakemore Field to raise their record to 3-0.
“I was a little worried about our kids, whatever you want to call it, maybe a little flat, but they responded, especially offensively,” Northside coach Mike Falleur said. “Defensively, we settled down and started playing some.
“Sloppy win for us, a lot of penalties (Northside had 12 penalties for 123 yards) and we’ve got to clean that up.”
In last week’s 31-16 win against Greenwood, the Grizzlies completed just three passes for 77 yards. But they nearly doubled that total in the first half of Friday’s win as Northside had 148 yards through the air, having completed 10 passes.
Wise threw his first TD pass to complete an 8-play 80-yard drive after Van Buren took a 7-3 lead. On the last play of that series, Wise found a wide open Jeremy Maffei in the end zone from 37 yards out, and Henry Hernandez added the PAT to put the Grizzlies up, 10-7, late in the first quarter.
The Grizzlies then got the ball back after the Pointers fumbled the snap on a punt attempt, with Northside taking over at the VB 7.
On a third-and-goal from the 8, much like the Philadelphia Eagles’ celebrated “Philly Special” in last season’s Super Bowl win, the Grizzlies broke out the “Grizzly Special.”
Receiver J.T. Thorne took the hand-off on a reverse and found Wise sprinting down the right side. Thorne then lofted a perfect pass right to Wise, who took it in for the TD, as Northside took a 17-7 lead two minutes into the second quarter.
The Pointers cut the lead to 17-14 as quarterback Christian Morrow found Logan Humphries from 14 yards out. But Northside answered again, going 72 yards in nine plays.
Wise connected with Jackson King for 33 yards on a third-and-19 situation, keeping the drive going. Then DeMarion Shepard finished things off with a 1-yard run standing up.
Northside then went for two and got it as quarterback Matt Hollenbeck found Colt Ferguson in the end zone.
After forcing VB to punt on the next series and getting the ball back in Pointer territory, Northside needed just five plays for another TD.
This time, Wise found King at the Pointer 5, and King bounced off a tackler and slid into the end zone to complete a 23-yard pass play as Northside led 32-14 with 40 seconds left in the opening half.
Wise was just as effective running the ball, as he gained 139 yards on 18 carries. He also crossed the end zone from 10 yards out on the opening series of the second half, as Northside built a commanding 39-14 advantage.
“He’s a running back playing quarterback and he’s worked hard to get better and he’s done a great job,” Falleur said of Wise. “He’s worked all winter on throwing the football; he’s just really worked hard and you can tell that he’s improved. He feels more comfortable doing what he’s done.”
For the game, Wise completed 14-of-16 passes for 190 yards. King caught six passes for 81 yards, and Maffei had three catches for 51 yards. Tailback Eli Bolton had 45 yards rushing as well.
The Grizzlies made it 46-14 with 8:27 left on a 3-yard TD run from tailback Rakaim Jackson.
Morrow completed 18-of-26 passes for 179 yards and two TDs, including a 34-yarder to Brayden Rivas in the closing minutes. In addition, Morrow had the Pointers’ first TD, a 2-yard keeper which gave Van Buren (1-1) a 7-3 lead in the opening quarter.
Northside finished with 472 total yards (274 rushing, 198 passing), while Van Buren was held to 194 total yards, including 15 on the ground.