FORT SMITH -- Fort Smith Northside has not gotten off to fast starts in the 7A-Central, but it did Friday against Little Rock Catholic.
The Grizzlies scored 16 points in the first eight minutes, then added 17 in the third quarter to pull away for a 40-14 win over the Rockets on Friday at Mayo-Thompson Stadium.
"I was glad to see us start fast. We've been needing to do that against [Catholic]," Northside Coach Mike Falleur.
Grizzlies quarterback Derrick Wise led the offensive assault for Northside (5-1, 2-1 7A-Central), rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown while passing for 183 yards with 2 more scores. The Grizzlies gained 443 yards in the game.
The defense forced three first-half interceptions by Catholic (4-2, 1-2) and limited star running back Samy Johnson to 124 yards on 27 carries and no scores. Johnson, a three-year starter for the Rockets, passed the 4,000-yard career rushing mark in the loss.
"I got no complaints about the job our defense did tonight," Falleur said. "The coach had them well prepared and they played hard. [Johnson] is a great running back, and he earned every yard he got tonight. We wanted to contain him and we did."
Northside led 23-7 at halftime thanks to Wise, who ran for a touchdown, threw for another and set up another score with a 58-yard run. The Grizzlies' defense picked off three passes, two that led to scores.
"We came out flat and we could never get in a flow, but Northside had something to do with that," Rockets Coach John Fogleman said. "We gave up a lot of big plays on defense -- we missed tackles and they had some big chunk plays for scores. At times, we had some really good plays, but when we did something good on offense, we seemed to shoot ourselves in the foot with a penalty or a turnover."
The Grizzlies used a 58-yard run by Wise to key a 70-yard, 3-play march, capped by a 12-yard run by Eli Bolton for a 7-0 lead three minutes into the game.
On Catholic's next possession, Northside's Stetson VanMetre picked off a pass and returned it 29 yards to the Rockets 3, leading to a 25-yard field goal and 10-0 lead.
Wise scored on a 20-yard keeper for a 16-0 Grizzlies' lead with 4:23 left in the opening quarter.
Wise hit Jackson King on a swing pass, and King sprinted down the left sideline for a 71-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter for a 23-0 Northside lead.
After Northside failed on a fourth down inside the Catholic 40, the Rockets marched 74 yards in 10 plays in just over two minutes. Brian Alsbrook went the final 3 yards for a touchdown with 19.5 seconds left in the first half to pull Catholic to within 23-7.
"I thought our defense got tired at the end of the half because both teams were so fast-paced," Falleur said. "I thought in the first half, we did not take advantage of some things the defense gave us."
Northside put the game away in the third period with scores on its first three possessions.
Wise hit Jeremy Maffei for a 30-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter for one score, and Demarion Shepard added a 19-yard touchdown run for a 37-7 advantage.
Sports on 10/06/2018
Print Headline: Northside enjoys a scarce fast start