It was the second year in a row Parks rallied the Bears from a two-score deficit against the Cardinals, the first coming in a 47-43 opening-round class AAAA state playoff game last season. Parks tossed two touchdown passes in the final 2:21 that time — the last coming with :57 left — to Freeman to deliver victory that night.
Friday night Parks was being battered and bruised most of the night in what can best be described as a roller-coaster ride between the Bears (3-0) and Cardinals (2-1).
Griffin trailed 6-0 after a quarterback sneak with 5:25 to play in the first quarter. Five plays later Griffin running back Malik Miller ripped off a 32-yard scoring run before returning an interception 26 yards for another score four plays after that. Then Parks threw the first of his three touchdown passes of the night, this one a 52 yarder to Jordan Colbert, on the first play of the second quarter to provide Griffin its largest lead, 21-6, of the game.
One or two more scores by Griffin would have effectively all but ended the game at that point. It didn’t happen as Griffin went flat and Jonesboro rose up to tie the game 21-all by half. Things looked bleak when Jonesboro scored on the opening possession of the second half and proceeded to hit a low point when the Cardinals took a 33-21 lead on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Mario Atkinson to Cameron Sutton on the first play of a drive with 4:30 left to play in the third quarter.
While Atkinsoon had 214 yards and a touchdown, Sutton — who turned down Oregon to commit to Tennessee — was the real start totaling 400 all-purpose yards on the night.
But here’s where a little Griffin magic kicked in as the Bears deflected a two-point conversion pass incomplete. Then Parks and company, battered and bruised to that point, kept fighting. The never-say-die attitude led to the 24-yard touchdown pass to Freeman on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Later, on fourth-and-8, it led to the eventual game-winning touchdown pass over the middle to Mangham with 5:42 left as Parks ran his record to 9-1 in the only 10 games he has ever started and played the majority of the snaps in. That’s not magic — it’s talent.
John Sullivan is the sports editor at the Griffin Daily News.