Warriors rattle off fourth straight district win
Warriors rattle off fourth straight district win
By Denton Ramsey / Sports Editor
Sometimes, all it takes is just one loss to turn around a season.
Just ask South Grand Prairie head coach David Fisher.
“We talked about running off six straight after we got beat by Trinity,” Fisher said. “And we’ve got four and we’ve got two more.”
So far, so good.
Thus far, the Warriors are listening to the words of their head coach, going four-for-four since their district debut loss to highly ranked Trinity.
The team aims to keep the streak alive on Nov. 3 at the Bowl, when South Grand Prairie faces Irving Nimitz in the Warriors final home game of the regular season.
South Grand Prairie struggled early but surged late in a 35-24 victory over Irving MacArthur on Oct. 27 at the Bowl, picking up their fourth straight victory to move to 4-1 in district action while improving to 7-1 overall.
“[Cardinals quarterback] Ron Brooks is a one-man wrecking crew – throwing it, running it, blocking PATs, back on kicks and punts – he’s just a great player,” Fisher said. “But I’m just really proud that we found a way to win.”
For the Warriors, it’s been a season of second half comebacks.
A team built with enough power and potency to win it all, the Warriors tend to strain early and swell late.
But with four wins already in the bag in district play, SGP has proven they belong among the elite.
For South Grand Prairie senior starters Denzel Dewberry, Trae Johnson and Tray Allen, this year will be their final chance to shine in the high school spotlight.
And most likely, all three SGP senior starters will see significant playing time at the collegiate level… but I digress.
On Friday night at the Bowl against MacArthur, Dewberry and company came out in their usual way – taking a 7-0 lead into halftime before waking up in the second half with 28 points in route to a 35-24 victory.
Irving MacArthur won the coin toss to open the game, deferring to the second half as the Warriors began the evening on offense by taking over at the Cardinals 44-yard line after a 45-yard kickoff return.
However, the Warriors failed to convert on fourth-and-one as Dewberry was stopped by mere inches on the officials spotting of the pigskin.
The failed attempt resulted in a change of possession, as the Cards took over at their own 34-yard line.
And after rallying all the way to the South Grand Prairie 40-yard line, the Cards decided to play their chances on a fourth-and-long attempt that was stopped short as MacArthur was tackled behind the line of scrimmage at the Warriors 45-yard line.
Upon taking over on offense after a solid defensive stand, the Warriors aimed to punch the pigskin into the end zone.
But their nine play drive was cut short by a fumble in the red zone at the Cards 6-yard line, as MacArthur pounced on the loose ball with 3:25 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Cardinals then went on a 16 play drive, running the clock down to 7:13 in the second quarter before a change of possession on a failed fourth-down conversion gave the Warriors the ball at their own 25-yard line.
And that’s when the Warriors first woke up, finally finding the rights seams and chasing daylight on an 11 play drive resulting in seven points.
With 2:23 left in the second quarter, Dewberry dove over his offensive line on a quarterback keeper as junior kicker Carson Wiggs successfully nailed the PAT to give SGP a 7-0 lead.
After forcing the Cards to a three-and-out on their ensuing possession, the Warriors took over at their own 45-yard line on a fair-catch with 1:24 remaining in the first half.
And SGP almost found paydirt again, as the Warriors worked their way to the MacArthur 24-yard line before Dewberry spiked the pigskin with 7.2 seconds remaining in the opening half.
But the Warriors were unable to capitalize on their good fortunes, as Dewberry was forced to run out of bounds with a 7-0 lead heading into halftime.
Dewberry entered the locker room at the half with 54 yards rushing on 10 carries to go along with 53 yards in the air on 5-for-10 pass completions, garnering over 100 yards of offense in a very balanced attack.
But the Cards came out in the second half with a vengeance, scoring in a two play opening drive to deadlock the game at 7-7.
With 11:38 remaining in the third quarter, MacArthur found an open hole in their running game, taking the ball 76 yards and to the house on a rare play that found the defense entranced in confusion.
However, the Cardinals game tying drive only lit a fire under the rears of the Warriors, as SGP used their balanced offensive threat to amass 75 yards on six plays to take a 14-7 lead midway through the third quarter.
Dewberry tucked the ball and ran it into the end zone from the Cards 1-yard line with 9:02 left in the third quarter after Julian Shankle and Rakin Rigsby setup good field position on back-to-back rushing plays.
After Wiggs’ PAT kick sailed successfully through the uprights, the Warriors held onto a 14-7 lead.
And that’s when the Warriors defense decided to make their presence known as well, forcing a fumble on the Cards ensuing drive to give SGP the pigskin at the MacArthur 23-yard line.
But on the very next play, the Warriors handed the ball back to the Cardinals, fumbling the ball at the MacArthur 24-yard line with 8:47 remaining in the third quarter.
The Cards then went on a six play drive resulting in seven points for the visitors, as MacArthur found paydirt on a 4-yard sweep to tie the game at 14-14.
After SGP was forced to punt on a three-and-out, the Cards took over at their own 43-yard line with a little over four minutes left in the third quarter.
Six plays later, MacArthur was sitting on a first-and-goal from the SGP 5-yard line before coach Fisher called for a Warrior timeout.
And whatever Fisher told his D worked, as the Warriors defense stopped the Cardinals from entering the end zone on three straight plays before MacArthur was forced to settle for a 25-yard field goal attempt.
With 1:49 left in the third, the Cards took their first lead of the game after a successful kick split the uprights to give MacArthur a 17-14 lead.
But the Cards lead turned out to be a very short-lived one.
With 56.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the Warriors found daylight on a 39-yard rushing touchdown by Shankle gave SGP a 21-17 lead.
The Warriors struck again with 9:03 remaining in the fourth quarter, as Dewberry connected with a wide open Trae Johnson in the right corner of the end zone to push the SGP lead to 28-17.
The ensuing Cardinals drive was then cut short by South Grand Prairie’s Thomas Ferguson, who picked off an errant pass with 6:47 left in the final quarter to give the Warriors the pigskin at their own 42-yard line.
And 10 plays later, the Warriors were once again chasing daylight as Dewberry dove over his offensive line for the touchdown with 2:08 remaining in the ball game, giving SGP a 35-17 lead.
MacArthur entered the end zone one final time with 49.1 seconds remaining in the game to cut into the Warriors lead, 35-24.
But the Cards onside kick was recovered by the Warriors at the MacArthur 45-yard line, as Dewberry and company ran down the clock on the final three plays of the game to give SGP an 11-point victory.
“That’s the best team you’ll see at 3-5,” Fisher said. “They might have a 3-5 record, but they don’t have 3-5 talent – they have some good players and we did what we had to do to win. It wasn’t real pretty, but a W is a W.”
Sports Editor Denton Ramsey can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org