Northside senior tailback Eli Bolton played sparingly in the Grizzlies' season opener two weeks ago, a blowout win against Rogers Heritage.

Then in the first half of last week's game against Greenwood, Bolton carried the ball four times. But he had his number called more after halftime, and Bolton responded.

Bolton ended up as the Grizzlies' leading rusher in the game with 105 yards and a touchdown in Northside's 31-16 win. He had 77 of those yards on six carries in the second half.

"I've always said this, pound for pound, Eli is as tough as any football player I've ever coached," Northside coach Mike Falleur said. "He runs the ball so hard and he's got great balance."

Despite Bolton's touchdown, which came in the opening half, perhaps his biggest carry of the night came much later.

It was his 65-yard burst on a pivotal third down in the third quarter, which helped Northside (2-0) regain the momentum.

With Greenwood having cut the Grizzly lead to four, 17-13, Northside faced a third-and-5 at its own 25. Quarterback Deuce Wise handed it off to Bolton, who found space to run down the left side, and Bolton nearly broke it for a touchdown before being brought down at the Greenwood 10.

Four plays later, Wise threw a 4-yard TD pass on third-and-goal to Jackson King which gave Northside a 24-13 lead with less than a minute left in the third.

"That (Bolton's run) couldn't have come at a better time," Falleur said. "He had a good cut and made one guy miss. ... That was a huge play in the game."

Of the 50 running plays the Grizzlies ran, six of those went for 10 or more yards, with Bolton's 65-yarder being the longest gain. But Northside still ran for 265 yards, and along with Bolton's effort, Wise added 97 yards of his own.

Wise had three carries for double-digit yardage, including a 22-yard keeper to the Bulldog 1 late in the game which set up the Grizzlies' last TD, which King finished off on the very next play.

Bend But Don't Break

Northside gave up its first touchdown all season on Greenwood's second series. But the Grizzlies' defense kept the Bulldogs out of the end zone the rest of the way.

In the final three quarters, Greenwood had the ball inside the Northside 30 on five different possessions but came away with a total of nine points, all courtesy of three field goals.

Senior linebacker Anthony "Boo" Travis recorded a total of 18 tackles, including eight solo stops. He also had three tackles for loss as well as breaking up one pass and forcing two quarterback hurries.

"Boo had an outstanding game," Falleur said. "And those tackles are tough to get because we just don't give out tackles, you've got to go out and you've got to do it."

Another senior, safety Greg Washington, had nine total tackles, six of those solo.

The Grizzlies also came up with five sacks, two coming from senior lineman Raytel Rone. Senior Tyriq Adams broke up three passes, including one in the end zone with 10 seconds left on a fourth-down play.

Southside

For all the offense Southside created in last week's 44-31 win at Bentonville West, the Mavericks' defense wasn't without a few stars as well.

Senior Darin Davenport, in particular, had a terrific first game back with 14 tackles, including six solo stops, and two interceptions.

Davenport returned one of his interceptions 23 yards for a touchdown.

"When you get your defensive leader out there, that really helps," Southside defensive coordinator Jacob Cox said. "He gets guys lined up. You know he's doing everything right."

Davenport missed all of 2017 and half of his sophomore year with injuries.

Sophomores Landen Chaffey, Parker Wehunt, Shawn Rogers and Eli Lyles played well, Cox said.

"Both of those backers (Chaffey and Wehunt) played well," Cox said. "Shawn played well at defensive tackle. His motor runs constantly.

"I thought Eli came in and played well and got us lined up. It was good for those young guys to get some experience."

Senior Bennett Weindel, the team's leading tackler from a year ago, had a dozen stops, and Chaffey added 10 tackles, including four unassisted tackles.

Solid numbers

Southside quarterback Taye Gatewood threw for 170 yards and a touchdown in the Mavericks' win last week. In addition, he also ran the ball 13 times for 52 yards and a touchdown.

Gatewood led the Mavericks with 17 rushing touchdowns in 2017.

Senior Ricardo Savoy had the biggest day of any 7A-Central back last week. He rushed for 242 yards and three touchdowns.

"Ricardo and Taye played great," Southside quarterbacks coach Justin Key said. "(Taye) played turnover free and I have been waiting on Ricardo to have a breakout game."

The speedy Savoy had a clinching 68-yard touchdown run.

"Ricardo has the one thing you can't coach, and that is speed," Key said. "If he gets out in the open, there are not a lot of guys that can catch him."

Times Record sportswriter Kevin Taylor also contributed to this report.