With 3:54 left in the contest, trailing 33-21 at home to North Pike, the odds were definitely stacked against Parklane in a game that garnered a large amount of hype from folks in Pike County.
But in the Pioneers, something clicked and it caught the Jaguars off guard. A 37-yard Taylor Alford touchdown run followed by a successful onsides kick recovery play by Braxton Cooksey and Braswell Ervin and a 5-yard Brady Wilson touchdown run with :18 to go capped off a 16-point comeback as Parklane walked away with the 37-33 win over North Pike.
“I think everybody got their money’s worth on that one,” Parklane head coach Brian Stutzman said. “I’m sure it was an exciting game to watch. I am proud of the kids, they never quit and we were able to pull it out in the end.”
Early on, the Pioneers (1-0) displayed their power rushing attack. Big contributions from Alford, Wilson and Cory Culotta on the opening possession helped fuel a six-play 63-yard drive that wrapped with a 3-yard run by Wilson. The extra point was no good.
The Jaguars (0-1) tried to answer on their first drive and despite having success moving the ball down the field and into the red zone, North Pike could not produce any points.
With the momentum clearly on the home side, Parklane looked to add to its lead. But the North Pike defense came up with a big stop. An interception on a pass following a botched punt attempt shifted the possession and the momentum over to the visitor’s side.
It didn’t take long for the Jaguars to capitalize. Four plays into the drive quarterback Alijah Martin hooked up with receiver Jacoby Matthews on a 32-yard touchdown pass putting North Pike on the board. The extra point was blocked keeping the score tied at 6-6 with 2:06 to go in the first quarter.
Two plays into the second quarter, the Pioneers reclaimed the lead. This time it was Alford, as the senior ran around the Jaguar defense on the left-hand side and into the end zone on a 19-yard touchdown scamper. With the Wyatt Lampton extra point, Parklane enjoyed a 13-6 lead.
But Martin and the North Pike offense was not phased one bit. The senior signal-caller orchestrated a five-play, 65-yard drive that culminated when he sliced through the Pioneer defense then sprinted into the end zone for a 43-yard score. However, the Pioneer special teams stepped up once again blocking their second-consecutive extra point. Parklane led North Pike 13-12 with 9:25 left in the first half.
Turnovers were the thorns in the side of the Pioneers who fumbled the ball six times on the night losing four of them to go along with the interception in the first half. Three of the lost fumbles came from Wilson who admitted after the game that it wasn’t his best effort.
“It was not one of my best games, I’ll go ahead and say that,” said Wilson who finished with 171 of Parklane’s 370 rushing yards. “Without my teammates picking me up after I fumbled so many times, I couldn’t do it.”
After recovering a Wilson fumble in the second quarter, Jaguars looked to take their first lead of the game. And they did just that, putting together a 74-yard drive that wrapped with a 15-yard run by Martin, his second on the night. A successful two-point conversion run by running back Damuriyon Montgomery, gave North Pike a 20-13 lead.
On the first drive of the second half, Martin quickly led his team down the field before finishing-off the drive with a 32 yard touchdown run. With the successful extra point from Jace Brown, the Jaguars enjoyed a 27-13 lead.
Similar to how turnovers hurt the Pioneers on the night, penalties were the Achilles heel for Jaguars who had 12 for 114 yards.
North Pike head coach Chris Smith was encouraged with the fight that his team put up despite not being able to pull out the win.
“I thought that for most of the game, we played pretty well,” he said. “We made a couple of mistakes we shouldn’t of made and we had a couple of turnovers. We had a chance to make some big plays here and there but all in all I thought that we played hard.”
Martin led the Jaguars with 177 yards and three scores on 18 carries. Through the air he was 6-of-18 for 75 yards and a touchdown.
After the game, Cooksey said the win makes a statement about the senior class at Parklane. “It shows that the 13 seniors are here and ready to play,” he said. “And it shows that we are ready for a big year.”