Commentary

Turnovers costly for North Garland

Garland defeats rival North Garland for the 18th consecutive year

Updated: October 24, 2009, 1:34 AM ET
By Ethan Szatmary

GARLAND -- For the 18th consecutive year, the Garland Owls (7-1, 5-0) beat their 10-5A rivals North Garland (5-3, 3-1).

With the 30-14 win at Williams Stadium Friday night, Garland locked up at least a share of the district championship and the top seed in Division I for the playoffs.

"This wasn't about the streak," senior quarterback Jared Barnett said. "This was about winning the district championship and getting that top seed. We took care of business."

With Barnett, an Iowa State pledge, and senior do-everything utility-man Adrian Phillips, an oral committal to Texas, both playing with nagging injuries, the Owls relied on the ground game to move the chains -- rushing 47 times and passing 21.

This was about winning the district championship and getting that top seed. We took care of business.

-- Garland quarterback Jared Barnett

"We took what we could get," Garland head coach Jeff Jordan said. "With the way they lined up, we had to be able to run the football. They put five men in the box, and our line did a great job blocking."

Junior Jordan Spencer led the way with 25 carries for 112 yards, and senior Adrian Neal added 57 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

"Jordan was doing a lot of running this week since I wasn't practicing much," Barnett said. "Jordan and Adrian got a lot of reps in practice, and the practice showed tonight."

The Raiders also moved the ball on the ground, but they all too often put the ball on the ground, as well. Despite 141 yards rushing and two touchdowns -- including a 76-yard beauty -- from senior quarterback Anthony McGhee, the Raiders fumbled the game away. They coughed the ball up four times, three on their own end of the field. The Owls started three scoring drives from the Raiders' 43-, 48- and 34-yard lines.

Barnett, who's been dealing with a partially torn hip flexor for two weeks, and the Owls made them pay. First Neal bolted in for a 20-yard score, and then Barnett connected with Ayron Morgan and Phillips on touchdown passes of 14 and 7 yards. Before North Garland could recover, the Raiders trailed 27-7 at the half. Barnett finished 12-of-21 for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

Garland opened up the scoring, riding the legs of Spencer down the field before Barnett walked into the end zone untouched from a yard out with 6:09 left in the first quarter.

North Garland took little time to answer, using the read option to sprint down the field riding the legs of quarterback Anthony McGhee and running back Brandon Jones. McGhee bounced outside 17 yards to even the score with 4:27 left in the first quarter.

North Garland attempted to get back into the game in the third quarter with McGhee keeping the ball on a read option up the middle then cutting to the sideline for a 76-yard touchdown to trim the lead to 27-14 with 23 seconds left in the third quarter.

Jordan breathed a sigh of relief that the UTEP pledge didn't have more like it.

"We did a great job, especially defensively containing that quarterback," Jordan said. "You saw how good he can be on that run."

The Raiders appeared to keep the momentum going on the next Garland series when junior Derek Akunne sacked Barnett for a 10-yard loss, but a late-hit call nullified the play, allowing the Owls to keep their drive alive and ice the game with a 32-yard field goal by junior Vince Villanueva with 4:59 to play.

The Raiders were left to hope that the 19th game in the streak will be the last.

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