In Hollywood, it is known as “flipping the script.”
But that’s exactly what Northwest did Friday night, piling up a 23-point fourth quarter to erase a 17-point halftime deficit and emerge with a 36-23 victory over visiting Garden City.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Grizzlies coach Steve Martin said. “They believed in each other, and they kept swinging.
“That’s what it’s all about. They’re learning some life lessons.”
A year ago in Garden City, the roles were definitely reversed as the Grizzlies jumped out to an early lead before the Buffaloes came back for a 46-34 triumph, outscoring Northwest 32-7 after halftime.
It seemed somewhat improbable after a first half in which Northwest committed a number of penalties, finishing with 19 for the night – including one that negated a potential go-ahead touchdown by tailback Roy Johnson.
But when Grizzlies quarterback Austin Anderson found Jalen Smith for the go-ahead points with 2:43 to play, things started to roll for Northwest – and close in on Garden City.
That kind of finish was not improbable. It can happen, Grizzlies coach Steve Martin said.
“Sure, it can happen,” he said. “It happened to us exactly a year ago (Friday).
“When that momentum goes the other way, it just starts snowballing.”
The Grizzlies were thwarted time and again by costly penalties – 13 in the opening half and 19 for the game.
“Tons of penalties, the interception (that helped set up one of Garden City’s three field goals), the blocked punt (which gave the Buffaloes a short field),” Martin said. “We just couldn’t get a rhythm. We had no rhythm in the first half.”
In the second half, instead of seeing Garden City score, Northwest forced the Buffaloes to punt time and again.
And even though there were still a few penalties – two of which negated a touchdown and a big gain – Northwest still found a way to execute some big plays and snag the victory.
Martin said the key was gaining – and maintaining – momentum.
“Momentum is a big thing in high school football,” he said, “and it’s high school teenagers that you’re relying on.”
Surviving against the wind – and scoring the only points of the period – was also a key, Martin said.
“(Garden City) chose the wind (in the third quarter) instead of taking it to start in the fourth quarter, and we use that to our advantage,” he said. “The big thing was going down and scoring on the first series of the third quarter (on an 18-yard pass from Anderson to Jaxson Reynolds) going into the wind. Austin Anderson completed some big passes there, and we got the score.”
With the wind at his back, Josh Benoit hit a 45-yard field goal as time ran out to give Northwest its needed 13-point margin of victory.
“We had to,” Martin said. “I hate doing that. Coach (Brian) Hill is a great friend of mine. That’s the first thing I did as soon as the game was over was to apologize. He understands that. That’s just the game we’re playing now is all about points.
“We knew that we had to win that game by 12 points or more to have a shot for the (No.) 2 seed (in district). I hate the rule. I hate doing that to a friend, but I think he would have done the same thing.”
Reynolds also made a statement on defense, picking off Buffaloes quarterback Garret Doll with 1:40 left and returning it 46 yards to seal the victory. A two-point attempt failed, resulting in the final margin.
“Jaxson Reynolds made a great play,” Martin said. “Here’s the funny thing: It happened to us last year. We threw a ‘Pick 6’ at the end of the game to extend the lead just like that.”
Martin might have had a premonition about Northwest’s first half.
“We told the kids ‘Bad things are going to happen (Friday night),’” Martin said. “How we respond is going to dictate what we do. We talked (going into) the fourth quarter: ‘This quarter is going to define us as a football team.’ I think we showed a lot (Friday night).
“This game is so eerily similar to last year’s game. They were up by four, and we threw a ‘Pick 6’ at the end of the game to extend the (Garden City) lead.
“It’s a credit to our kids. They kept on fighting and kept on believing in each other, and we came out.”
Garden City 3 20 0 0 – 23
Northwest 0 6 7 23 – 36
GC – FG Flores 32
GC – Davis 19 pass from Doll (Flores kick)
NW – Hall 66 run (kick blocked)
GC – Davis 28 pass from Doll (Flores kick)
GC – FG Flores 32
GC – FG Flores 36
NW – Reynolds 18 pass from Anderson (Benoit kick)
NW – Hall 5 run (Benoit kick)
NW – Smith 34 pass from Anderson (Benoit kick)
NW – Reynolds 46 interception return (Benoit kick)
NW – FG Benoit 45
RUSHING – Garden City: LaPointe 18-54, Doll 8-2. Northwest: Hall 16-97, Johnson 7-65, Reynolds 1-12, Anderson 11-(-20).
PASSING – Garden City: Doll 12-36-1-175. Northwest: Anderson 8-14-1-94.
RECEIVING – Garden City: Davis 7-88, Arteaga 2-56, Sexton 1-27, LaPointe 1-2, Kreutzer 1-2. Northwest: Reynolds 4-58, Hall 2-40, Johnson 2-5, Hall 1-(-9).