Written by Jon Machota
Running game, late pass play gives Garland fifth straight win, 37-28, over Naaman Forest
GARLAND — Luther Kirk didn’t have much success throwing the football Friday night at Williams Stadium, completing only two passes. But when his arm was needed most, the Garland junior quarterback delivered.
With Garland trailing by 28-24 late in the fourth quarter and facing fourth-and-13, Kirk stepped back and tossed a precise jump ball to senior wide receiver Bayshawn Scott. Scott made a leaping 18-yard touchdown grab, propelling Garland to its fifth consecutive victory over Garland Naaman Forest, 37-28.
Kirk, who finished 2-of-10 passing for 49 yards and two touchdowns, rushed 21 times for 152 yards and three touchdowns. Senior running back Jaharrad Haskins carried the ball a game-high 29 times for 160 yards as Garland (4-4, 4-1 District 11-5A) ran 78 offensive plays on the night.
Naaman Forest (5-4, 4-1) ran only 36 plays but grabbed the lead, 28-24, on a wild punt return with 11:06 remaining. Garland’s Emanuel Vertiz nearly had his punt blocked but recovered only to get off a kick that failed to reach the line of scrimmage. Naaman Forest junior wide receiver Caleb Valentine quickly grabbed the ball and returned it for a 16-yard score.
After the Scott touchdown, the Garland defense intercepted its third pass of the game. But unlike the other two, Garland didn’t follow this one up by going three-and-out. Six rushing plays later, Kirk found the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line.
Naaman Forest junior Chase Harris returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Garland didn’t take its first lead until a Vertiz 25-yard field goal late in the third quarter made it 24-21.
Naaman Forest junior running back Michael Nelson, the leading rusher in 5A, finished with 106 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
Garland and Naaman Forest have clinched playoff spots, but Naaman Forest plays Sachse next Friday for a chance at the 11-5A district crown.