SPRINGDALE -- Derrick Wise did it all for Fort Smith Northside, and the Grizzlies needed everything the junior could deliver.
Wise fired a pair of touchdown passes and also intercepted a pass in the Grizzlies' 21-9 win against Springdale Har-Ber in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs at Wildcat Stadium.
North — Dilworth 21 pass from Wise (Paredes kick), 10:08
Har — Wood 28 pass from Wittschen (Zizumbo kick), 7:43.
Har — Safety, 2:06
North — King 9 run (Paredes kick), 5:51.
North — Dilworth 3 pass from Wise (Paredes kick), 7:48.
The Grizzlies brought a 3-7 record into the game and had to get a season finale win against crosstown rival Fort Smith Southside last week just to get into the playoffs.
"I'm so excited. We won a big game last week and we did it again this week," said Northside coach Mike Falleur. "We're young and we're improving and that's what we want. We're going to go home and practice, enjoy this this weekend and see if we can't go to (North) Little Rock and get another one."
The Grizzlies will go on the road next week to North Little Rock, which drew a first-round bye as the 7A Central champion.
Northside's defense set the tone from the start and did not allow Har-Ber (7-4) to get much of anything going offensively. The Wildcats played without starting quarterback Grant Allen, who was on the sideline in street clothes with an injury.
"Northside did a nice job getting the run game stopped," Har-Ber coach Chris Wood said. "They plugged the holes well and they rose to the occasion when they needed to. I thought Northside played a really good game, but I thought our guys competed hard, we just came up on the short end of the stick tonight."
Both teams had scoring opportunities early, but Northside finally broke through with 10 minutes, 8 seconds left in the second quarter when Wise found Jordan Dilworth for a 21-yard scoring strike to cap a 5-play, 38-yard drive after a short Har-Ber punt for a 7-0 lead.
Har-Ber bounced back with its only real offensive success of the night, marching 65 yards in 8 plays to tie the score at 7-7. Logan Collins and Blaise Wittschen, who started at quarterback, found openings to rip off gains of 15 and 14 yards, and Wittschen capped the drive with a 28-yard strike to Hunter Wood in the end zone for the touchdown.
The Wildcats took their only lead of the game with 2:06 left in the half when a snap on a Northside punt attempt sailed out of the end zone for a safety and a 9-7 Har-Ber lead. The Wildcats then got a 21-yard return by Tevin Eckwood on the ensuing free kick, but they could not capitalize as Jesus Zizumbo's 30-yard field goal attempt at the halftime horn missed wide left.
Northside, which last won a playoff game in 2014, dominated the second half, holding Har-Ber to just 68 total yards and 194 for the game. The Grizzlies took the lead for good midway through the third quarter driving 65 yards in 8 plays, capped by Jackson King's 9-yard scoring run, but the big play on the drive was a 33-yard double pass from Wise to Jajuan Thorne to James Clayton to the Har-Ber 19.
Then in the fourth quarter the Grizzlies sealed the win when Wise found Dilworth on a crossing pattern in the end zone with 7:48 left.
"It feels great coming out here and proving everybody wrong," said Wise, who finished the game 10 of 17 passing for 112 yards, and added 78 yards rushing. "We passed really well, our running game was working, we were clicking on all cylinders. It's just a great feeling."
Sports on 11/11/2017
Print Headline: FS Northside stuns Har-Ber