Jonesboro quarterback Mario Atkinson gets a play from offensive coordinator Nate Wardlaw during the first half of its game against No. 4 Griffin on Friday. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
JONESBORO — Unlike the last two meetings between Region 4-AAAA foes Jonesboro and Griffin, Friday’s match could hardly be considered a classic.
After Griffin came from behind to win the last two meetings, the fourth-ranked Bears left little doubt at Tara Stadium that they were the superior team with a 38-0 win in a Region 4-AAAA, Div. B game. With the win, the Bears are tied with Riverdale for the lead on their side of the subregion.
Jonesboro was hoping to use this game to see just how good its defense was after only giving up 14 points, seven by its starters in the first two games.
But coach Tim Floyd realized that Griffin would present more of a problem than the likes of Mount Zion and Westover.
And he was right.
Griffin jumped to a 13-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game, and was never challenged.
The Bears, who have won the last 20 matchups coming into the game, jumped to a 31-0 lead at halftime. During that span, Griffin quarterback Jaquez Parks had accounted for two touchdowns. The senior had touchdown runs of 1 and 55 yards, in addition to scoring on a two-point conversion.
“It is very disappointing going two weeks in a row without a score,” Floyd said. “But I will give Griffin credit because their defense took away some things from us. They played real good. We just have to find a way to put the football in the end zone.”
Griffin scored on its first six possessions of the game, all five of its first half possessions. It wasn’t until late in the third quarter when the Bears punted for the first time in the game.
By that time, Griffin had already built a 38-0 score with 3:50 remaining in the third quarter. Jonesboro elected not to use the running clock in the third, but it became mandatory in the fourth after the Cardinals fell behind by at least 30 points.
Last week, Jonesboro lost 7-0 to Westover in a non-region game at Twelve Oaks Stadium. The Cardinals had a chance to score late in that game, but had a fumble on the goal line.
Jonesboro offensive coordinator Nate Wardlaw said he doesn’t expect major changes with the offense in the coming week as the team prepares for Eagle’s Landing. He said he will tweak some things, and look to move in some other personnel in order to jumpstart the sluggish offense.
“I still believe in my guys,” Wardlaw said. “We just have to find the things that work for us, and fine tune it. We still have a lot of football remaining on the season.”
After getting behind 7-0 in the first quarter, Jonesboro moved the ball to Griffin’s 5 before the drive stalled. A 22-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Griffin. On the fifth play of the ensuing drive, Parks ripped off a 55-yard run up the middle to score as the Bears begin to take control of the game.
On the next Griffin drive, Parks scored on a 1-yard run, to cap a six-play, 76-yard drive to take a 21-0 lead with 9:18 remaining in the second quarter.
With the win, Griffin improves to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the subregion as Jonesboro dropped to 1-2 and 0-1.
As the Cardinals try to search for some offensive consistency, it must content with a high-powered Eagle’s Landing offense that feature running backs Corey Holloway and Sederick Palmer, a pair of Div. I recruits. Last season, the two rushed for over a 1,000 yards each.