GRIFFITH | It was a regular season to forget at Griffith.
At least for one night, it was a postseason to remember.
The Panthers, a once loud-and-proud program, came into Friday’s Class 4A Sectional 17 opener against Clark with everything to gain and nothing to lose following a 2-7 regular season.
Behind a dominating rushing attack, Griffith scored early and often against an overmatched Clark squad, sprinting to a 50-36 victory.
“Obviously everybody talks, but we just ignore it, practice hard and keep going,” said Griffith senior quarterback Kyle Buikema, who rushed for two touchdowns and passed for another. “Our motto was just to look ahead; don’t look back on the regular season.”
It was Griffith’s first two-game winning streak since September of last season and the 10th straight victory over the Pioneers. Clark (2-8) hadn't beaten the Panthers (3-7) since 1993.
While Griffith and Bowman Academy scored 101 points last week (the most ever in a game including the Panthers), another record fell by the wayside on Friday as Clark’s Justin Martinez threw for 396 yards and five touchdowns, the most yards ever allowed by a Griffith defense. The junior was 16-for-41 passing as the Pioneers ran 75 offensive plays.
Griffith, meanwhile, got a game-high 145 yards and a TD from Justin Green while Antonio Suarez had 102 yards and three touchdowns.
“This was big for the kids and the program,” Griffith coach Jim Pickett said. “It was a tough year in a conference where we are outnumbered in terms of enrollment, but the kids have kept the faith.”
Griffith jumped out to a 20-0 first quarter lead and 36-6 at halftime, but Clark outscored the Panthers 30-14 in the second half. The Panthers started putting in their subs late in the third, but Pickett had to put his starters back in to finish the game.
The two teams combined for 12 fumbles and 34 first downs.
Griffith and Clark’s history dates back to the 1934 season, when the two teams played to a scoreless tie.