Murray paces North DeSoto past Crowley
By Chris Quebedeaux
STONEWALL – North DeSoto senior running back Javaris Murray has caught the eye of numerous collegiate football coaches in 2008.
And Friday night, he definitely got Crowley High’s attention in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs.
Murray, who reportedly is being heavily recruited by a number of teams, including Vanderbilt of the SEC, torched the Gents for 304 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns in leading the Griffins (8-3) to a unexpectedly easy 32-6 victory over the visiting Gents.
The loss eliminated the Gents (5-5) from postseason play.
North DeSoto will now travel to Amite this Friday for a second-round contest against the No. 3-seeded Warriors.
“We’ll be seeing that guy in our sleep tonight,” said CHS coach Tommy Tate of Murray following the contest. “We didn’t tackle him very well and he’s a young man that if you turn loose, he’s very capable of making big plays. And he did.”
Murray has been carrying much of the load for the Griffins all season, posting over 1,500 yards in the regular season.
Friday was no different.
“Javaris has been running the ball great all year,” said ND coach Scott Abernathy. “We spread the carries between three backs so if he was the chief tailback type guy, he’d have a lot more numbers.”
As impressive as Murray’s performance was, it wasn’t the only bullet the Griffins used to dispatch the Gents.
North DeSoto also hurt the Gents through the air with Griffin quarterback Curtis Carter completing four of his six pass attempts for 143 yards.
Carter got the Griffins’ first scoring drive going, completing a 35-yard pass to JaCobi Winn on the North Desoto’s first offensive play of the night. Murray then broke off a 23-yard run to the CHS 7-yard line. After a loss and a illegal motion penalty, Carter hit Dennis Graham from 13 yards out for a score on a fourth down play.
That, unfortunately for an error-prone Gents team, was just the beginng.
The Griffins extended their lead four minutes later, thanks to a CHS mistake, the first of many.
With the Gents facing a fourth-and-long from their own 41, an errant snap on a punt got past CHS punter Keith Pierson. Graham, doubling on special teams, picked up the loose ball and raced to the end zone for his second score of the night.
Shortly thereafter, Murray made his presence known again.
Following a Crowley punt, the Griffins took over on their own 20 with 17 seconds remaining in the opening frame. On the first play, Murray got the call up the middle and raced through the a stunned CHS defense for an 80-yard touchdown run.
That, it turned out, was the Griffins’ last score of the half as the Gents defense stiffened and held the hosts scoreless in the second quarter.
The Gents actually had a chance to cut into the lead twice in the second frame. A tipped pass by a falling defender was bobbled and fell out Mike Milson’s reach near the North Desoto goal line.
And just before the half, George Henagan recovered a fumble at the ND 18. After three unsuccessful plays, Dexter Scott’s pass to the corner of the end zone fell just out of the grasp of Milson.
“We had our chances to make some plays and we just didn’t get it done,” said Tate. “We knew if it would be a high-scoring game, it would tough. They (North DeSoto) put up so me points early and held on.”
Crowley opened the second half with a sense of urgency, forcing the Griffins to turn the ball over on downs deep in CHS territory.
Taking over at their own 11, CHS quarterback D’Myrus Daniels broke off a four-yard run before hitting Donovan Morris for a 42-yard completion. Daniels then ran a quarterback keeper through the middle of the ND defense, racing 43 yards for the Gents’ only touchdown.
A two-point conversion attempt failed, but it appeared the Gents at last had got their act together.
North DeSoto put a halt to the momentum swing, however, on their next possession. The Griffins drove 82 yards in nine plays before Carter scored from two yards out.
Even so, it wasn’t over at 25-6.
Crowley responded by getting back into North DeSoto’s red zone on the ensuing possession, only to turn the ball over on an interception in the end zone.
That’s when Murray and the Griffins put the final nail in the Gents’ coffin.
Two plays later, Murray got the call again for the Griffins and ripped a 79-yard touchdown run to make it 32-6.
Game, set, match.
“We really thought the game was manageable at halftime,” said Tate. “We came out, got a drive going and got it in the end zone. I thought we had some momentum right there. We had a good kick off and we stop them inside the 20 and then they run a veer dive and pop us for about 80.”
Another key to North DeSoto’s success was the play of its defense, which had been giving up nearly 28 points per game heading into Friday’s showdown with the Gents. The Griffins, in one of their best performances of the year, held the Gents to just 178 yards of total offense (101 rushing and 77 passing).
“One of our problem’s this year was that we haven’t been a very good big-play defense,” said Abernathy. “I know Crowley has struggled a little bit offensively, but we picked it up a lot tonight on the defensive side of the ball. I was proud of our kids because we challenged them. They were called soft and those kinds of things and I thought we played well.
Statistically, Murray led the way for the Griffins on the ground, gaining 304 of their 310 rushing yards.
Carter completed four passes for 143 yards and one touchdown. Winn had two receptions for 83 yards and Graham had two catche s for 60 yards and a touchdown.
Daniels paced the Gents, gaining 118 yards on 15 carries while also completing two passes for 61 yards. Dexter Scott completed three pass for 24 yards. Donovan Morris had two receptions for 52 yards and Pierson had one for 19. Milson and Tonori Boutte each had one catch for 11 and three yards respectively.