ND Football v Tunica

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 2, 2007

ND holds off late Tunica touchdown drive to remain undefeated in district

By Angie Ledbetter

The North Delta Green Wave held off a last minute scoring threat by the Tunica Blue Devils to remain undefeated in the district with a 25-20 victory.

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With just a little over two minutes left in the game, the Blue Devils had the ball on the Green Wave’s 13 yard line.

Green Wave linebacker Hunter West intercepted the ball with 2:12 on the clock. The Green Wave were not able to capitalize and had the punt the possession away.

The Blue Devils got another chance at scoring with less than two minutes left on the clock. They drove back down to the Green Wave’s 11 yard line. Defensive back Geri Lamm made a touchdown and a game saving tackle as time expired to preserve the win for the Green Wave.

Head Green Wave coach Richard Russo said after the game that the team had to overcome extreme adversity to win.

“It wasn’t a championship game, but I will never forget it nonetheless,” said Russo.  “The way our young men overcame so much adversity by staying positive and staying focused, it says a lot about their character.  

“To be down 20-7 and to rally for 18 unanswered points, and then to shut them down with eight consecutive plays in the Red Zone to end the game, that was the definition of heart,” he continued. “Hats off to our entire team and our coaching staff. It was evident that our sideline wanted this game bad.”      

The Green Wave took the opening kickoff but had to punt it away.  At 4:47, Tunica’s Chris Kimbrell scored on a 72-yard run but the touchdown was called back due to a holding penalty.

With 11 seconds left in the first quarter, Green Wave Michael Johnson took the ball 11 yards into the endzone. The PAT (point after touchdown) was good by J.T. Dalrymple to give the Green Wave a 7-0 lead at the end of the quarter.  

The Blue Devils came back and took control of the second quarter by scoring two touchdowns. Tunica’s Cody Simpson scored on a 27-yard run and Barlett Graves scored on a one yard run. Both extra points failed but Tunica led 12-7 at halftime.  

Graves scored on a 62- yard run for Tunica at the beginning of the third qua ter. The two point conversion was good for a comfortable 20-7 Blue Devils lead with 11:39 on the clock.    

Bateman Greenlee scored on a one yard quarterback keeper when he pushed the ball over the line with 7:28 on the clock. With the failed PAT, the Green Wave had pulled within a touchdown 20-13.

A few plays later, Green Wave defensive back Josh Garrott intercepted a Blue Devils’ pass on their 42 yard line.

Six plays later, Dalrymple scored on a 24-yard run. The PAT failed again. With the failed PATs, instead of a one point lead, the Green Wave found themselves down 20-19.

The Green Wave defense started to show more enthusiasm.

The Green Wave was intercepted with 10:58 in the fourth quarter by Graves on the Green Wave’s 27 yard line. With a sack by Dalrymple and pass coverage by the Green Wave defense, the Blue Devils had to punt the ball.

The Green Wave retook the lead 25-20 on a 12-yard run by Lamm with 3:54 left in the game. The two-point conversion failed.

“The players were playing as hard as they could,” Russo said. “I loved it. This is why you coach, for nights like tonight.”

Dalrymple led the team in rushing with 112 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown.  Lamm had six carries for 46 yards and one touchdown.  Michael Johnson had five rushes for 47 yards and one receiving touchdown.

Bateman Greenlee was five of 11 in passing with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Dalrymple kicked one of three PATs and he had four punts for an average of 36.5 yards.

The Green Wave had 17 first downs, one fumble, and nine penalties for 75 yards.

On defense, West led the team with 15 total tackles, four tackles for a loss, two sacks and one pass breakup.

Garrott had 15 total tackles, one pass breakup, two tackles for a loss and one interception.

Dalrymple had nine total tackles, one tackle for a loss, one sack, and one pass breakup.  Greenlee had nine total tackles. John Paul Keel had eight total tackles, two tackles for a loss, and one sack. Lamm had eight total tackles.

“Having J.T. back made a big difference in all three phases of the game,” Russo said. “He is a playmaker.  Hats off to Bateman Greenlee for stepping up and playing a position on defense that he only had a chance to practice at for a week.”

Russo said Hunter West played one of the best defensive games that he has seen in a long time.

“I was glad that Geri Lamm scored the game winning touchdown and made the game winning tackle,” he said.  “It was good to have Michael Johnson back at wideout. He gives our offense a whole other dimension when he is split out wide.”

Defensive coordinator Lance Thomas said the players are a very close group and all the negativity that was noticeable is gone.

“There are some leaders that we have now,” Thomas said.  “When the clock is ticking and the ball is being driven down the field with the other team about to score, all you can do is coach your team up.  If they’ve got heart, then they can get it done.  This team has got a lot of heart right now.  They finished one hundred percent tonight!”

Clayton Cole agreed.

“It took a lot of good plays by our skilled players,” Cole said. “It took everybody playing as a team and really coming together and believing in it.  We had a lot of guys that would make a mistake and then come back and on the next play, go two hundred and ten percent.”

“This game was great,” said West.  “We were down and came back and won the game.”

Garrott agreed this was a big district game.

“Now the only people standing in our way are Delta, Marvell and West Memphis,” he said.  “Without a doubt, Tunica which was our victory tonight is really going to help us get that district title that we really want.  The coaches had warned us that Tunica had improved from last year.  They put up a fight and we had a dog fight.  Luckily we came out on top of it.”

Dalrymple was glad to be back in quarterback mode and praised his teammates for battling through when they were down two touchdowns.

“Everybody stayed up and encouraged everybody,” he said. “It felt awesome to come back and play. It was the best feeling in the world.”

John Paul Keel cut to the chase and said it took good old fashion defense to win the game.

“We played with a lot of heart,” Keel said. “Tunica came out and played just as hard as we did on offense.”

Michael Johnson said, “At first, we were just down two touchdowns right at halftime. Then they started throwing me the ball.  Everybody got pumped.  Tunica was expecting the ball to come to me, but we ran it and did a twenty-eight sweep the other way after they double covered me.  We scored after that.”

“J.T. was just wheeling us on,” Johnson continued. “We had some adversity in the red zone but we pulled through. We finished tonight.”

The Green Wave will be back in action on Friday night when they host the Delta Academy Raiders from Marks in another district showdown at 7:30 p.m.