Photo by Derrick Mahone
Dutchtown quarterback Donovahn Jones (No. 7) is ran out-of-bounds by Griffin linebacker Quadarius Sullivan in the first quarter of the seventh-ranked Bears' 42-16 win on Friday in the season opener for both teams.
Make it 27 wins, 0 losses for Griffin.
The Dutchtown Bulldogs came out, guns blazing, in the first half looking to notch their first win against the Bears in five tries, while trying to give a Henry County school its first ever victory over the Middle Georgia powerhouse.
But Griffin’s superior depth and speed rose to the top in the end as the seventh-ranked Bears scored 35 unanswered second- half points en route to a 42-16 victory at Dutchtown Friday.
“We just ran out of gas,” Dutchtown coach Jason Galt said. “I thought we came out with a lot of emotion early and executed well, but that emotion fizzled in the second half, we got dinged up a bit and found out we didn’t have as much depth as we thought.”
It wasn’t for lack of effort, however, that the Bulldogs came up short. Despite Griffin’s dominance against Henry County foes in general, Dutchtown always seems to give the Bears all they can handle.
Such seemed to be the case on the first play of the game when senior quarterback Donovahn Jones connected with Brandon Thomas for a 24-yard gain that gave the Dutchtown crowd immediate life. Three plays later, Jones would take an option keeper 14 yards to put the Bulldogs in quick scoring position.
The drive would stall, however, calling for Ryan Kangiser to boot a 42-yard field goal, putting Dutchtown on the board first 3-0.
It was then time for Galt’s defense’s to show they were ready to play.
After Griffin moved the ball steadily down the field to the Bulldog 20-yard line, Dutchtown stiffened and forced Griffin to attempt a fourth-and-9 conversion. That’s when Josh Baylor stepped in front of a Jaquez Parks pass aimed for the end zone. Baylor returned the interception out to the 10-yard line, helping Dutchtown preserve its 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Griffin began to flex its muscle on its next possession, capping off a 91-yard scoring drive with Malik Miller’s five yard touchdown run out of Griffin’s WildBear package — a variation of the Wildcat formation. The score put Griffin up 7-3 with 9:20 left in the half.
Dutchtown responded immediately as Daniels caught a pitch from Jones and tossed a 5-yard strike to Thomas on a flea flicker, giving the Bulldogs a 10-7 lead.
Dutchtown forced the Bears to punt on their next drive, and then used a 42-yard pass play off a fake punt from Jones to Matthew Daniels, which set up a 2-yard Jones touchdown run and gave Dutchtown a 16-7 advantage going into the half.
It was enough to leave Griffin coach Steven Devoursney impressed.
“They came out tough and really wanted it more in that first half,” Devoursney said. “They just wanted it more than we did in the first half.”
However, much to the Bulldogs’ dismay, Griffin did what dominant teams do — they dominated.
On Griffin’s first possession, Parks connected with sophomore Darquavious Mangham on a 40-yard bomb to chop the Dutchtown lead to 16-14. Dutchtown ended its next drive with a safety on a high snap on a punt attempt, tying the score.
The floodgates opened for Griffin as Miller added on two long touchdown runs along with a 34-yard Parks-to-Christen Owens touchdown pass.
Backup quarterback Anthony Stroud capped off the scoring for Griffin on a 5-yard quarterback keeper.
No matter the score, Galt said his team did some things to leave him encouraged.
“Griffin is just a solid, solid team,” he said. “And I thought we still came out and executed well in the first half against them. We did some decent things on special teams and our offense moved the ball effectively in the first half.”
Despite being shut out in the second half, though, Galt said there is no need for panic.
“It was just the first game,” he said. “We’re really focusing on that fifth game, when we start our region play. This is why we scheduled tough games like Griffin, to prepare us for the rest of our season.”