Special Photo by Kyle Chambers
Jonesboro running back Rodney Singleton (8) tried to outrun Griffin defensive back Eddrick Johnson during the teams Class AAAA playoff game at Tara Stadium on Friday. Griffin won 47-43 to advance to the second round.
In the end, Jonesboro was unable to overcome its playoff inexperience.
The Cardinals sat in prime position to knock off Griffin in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs, but two special teams mistakes in the final 75 seconds allowed Griffin to escape Tara Stadium with a 47-43 win Friday.
Leading 43-41 with 1:15 remaining, Jonesboro punted the ball, but had to do it over after a false start penalty. On the next attempt, the snapped sailed over punter Cameron Sutton’s head, and the Bears got the ball at the Jonesboro 13.
It only took the Bears two plays before quarterback Jaquez Parks connected with Devonta Freeman for the winning 13-yard scoring play with 57 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing drive, Cardinals quarterback Cedric Nettles was sacked and fumbled the ball.
However, Jonesboro would stop the Bears on their next drive as it burned all three timeouts to get the ball back. An overthrown pass as time expired helped the Bears extend their winning streak over Jonesboro to 19 games in the series since 1981.
“Way too many mistakes,” Jonesboro coach Tim Floyd said. “You can’t make as many mistakes against a team like Griffin and expect to win.”
Jonesboro, which ended its season at 9-2, lost two fumbles on kickoffs that led to Griffin points. The Bears will take on top-ranked Tucker next week in the second round of the playoffs.
Griffin refused to kick the ball deep all night to keep the ball out of Sutton’s hands.
Jonesboro held a 43-34 lead with 5:21 remaining after Taurean Ferguson caught a 48-yard touchdown reception from Nettles. On the ensuing drive, Griffin would pull to 43-41 with 2:21 remaining when Parks connected with Trey Willis on a 16-yard touchdown pass.
The Cardinals looked to run the clock out, but were stopped, and had to punt. A penalty and bad snap prevented Jonesboro from winning.
While Floyd was disappointed in the loss, he was pleased with a season that saw the Cardinals finish runner-up in Region 4-AAAA and make their first playoff appearance since the 2008 season.
“I’m pretty happy with the season,” he said. “These seniors set a good foundation for the underclassmen. They have left something for next season’s team to build on.”