City pulls out 27-24 win over Forest Park

September 16, 1995|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

One of his best two running backs was injured, the other being contained brilliantly, and his No. 7 Knights, victimized by six turnovers, trailed a determined Forest Park squad, 24-21, with 2:04 left in the game.

But just when City coach George Petrides seemed to be running out of answers, wide receiver Kevin Griffin (two receptions, 58 yards) encouraged him to exploit a flaw in the Foresters' defense during a timeout with City (1-1) having driven 58 yards in six plays to the Forest Park 23.

"They had been playing me inside all game, so I figured that I could beat them on the corners," said Griffin.

And on the ensuing play, Michael Johnson (3-for-10, 84 yards) spotted Griffin (two receptions, 58 yards) in the end zone's far corner -- five yards behind the nearest defender -- for the game-winning reception in a 27-24 City 2A league game.

"I just ran over to that side [near City's sideline] and Michael put it there," Griffin said. "It came when we really needed it."

The Knights (345 total yards) also needed Griffin's third-quarter, 45-yard punt return for a touchdown which, coupled with Johnson's conversion pass to Marcus Cornish, turned Forest Park's 16-13 halftime lead into a 21-16 advantage for City.

Forest Park (317 yards of offense) got gritty efforts from running backs Calvin Thurmond (35 yards), Sharif Small and quarterback Adrian Griffin (8-for-15, 115 yards), but never closed the door on the Knights.

"I think we have some of the quickest, hard-hitting, stinging guys you'll see," said Forest Park coach Obie Barnes. "But it seems like no matter how much we've managed to push City around, they've come up with the big plays to neutralize all our hard work."

Barnes pointed to a game-opening, 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by the Knights' Damian Beane (14 carries, 150 yards) as setting the tempo, and Beane's 37-yard touchdown run with six minutes left in the first half as "staying in our kid's heads" after City running back Taber Small went down to a third-quarter ankle injury.

"When Taber left, we had to tough it out," said Beane, who had 116 yards and two touchdowns in last year's 20-0 win over Forest Park. "The line came through. This was critical because after losing to C. Milton Wright [30-12] last week, we had to redeem ourselves."

But the Foresters (1-1) appeared to have the final momentum needed for the win after Bryant Jordan's recovery of a fumble by Rodney Johnson at the City 20. Two plays later, the Foresters led 22-21, after Lonnie Byrd fumbled the ball forward into the end zone where teammate Wendell Arnette fell on it for the score.

Aaron Thompson's second conversion run put the Foresters ahead, 24-21, with eight minutes remaining in the game.

Thompson (13 carries, 49 yards) had a big day, scoring the Foresters' first two touchdowns from 4 and 2 yards and grabbing a drive-stopping interception.

Thompson's second touchdown was set up by his 48-yard option pass to Thurmond (four receptions, 74 yards). Thompson also option-pitched the third conversion run to Byrd (eight carries, 45 yards) and was the recipient of a hook-and-lateral pass from Byrd for 45 yards.

"I told the team at halftime that the last team to beat us on this field was Forest Park in 1990 and that was on their minds," said Petrides. "Beane, Johnson, Griffin, those guys came through for us today."

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