Article By: TODD KRESs firstname.lastname@example.org
Parkland didn’t get off to the best start last Friday night against Whitehall. But the way the Trojan football team finished gave the rest of the Lehigh Valley a glimpse as to how difficult they might be to knock off.
Tied at 21-21 in the fourth quarter, Parkland scored the final 10 points to hand the Zephyrs a 31-21 loss on Friday night at Whitehall High School. The Trojans (6-0) rallied from two early one-touchdown deficits in the first half.
The win awarded Parkland with the traditional Joe Gerencser trophy, given to the winner of this annual rivalry game.
“This is huge,” Ruisch said. “It’s our first rivalry game, our first trophy game that we have. We finally got some hardware. We had a lot of mistakes, but once we clear that up we are a great football team.”
Clinging to a three-point lead around the midway point of the fourth quarter, Parkland got the ball back with less than six minutes to play. It proceeded to run the clock down to just 37 seconds before Joey Guida’s 4-yard touchdown run that sealed the victory.
The biggest play, however, came moments earlier with the Trojans facing a fourth-and-7 from Whitehall’s 18-yard line. Instead of opting for a field goal and a potential six-point lead, there was no question head coach Tim Moncman was going for it with the game on the line.
The result was a first down throw from Ruisch (21-of-32 for 231 yards) to Cole Wetherhold on a quick pass.
“That play was huge,” Ruisch said. “Cole Wetherhold made a great catch there and sealed the game for us. A big shout out to him. And our offensive line kept me clean and let me get the throw off.”
Whitehall struck first in the game after a Parkland running into the kicker penalty kept a Zephyr scoring drive alive. Ethan Parvel then found Dez Boykin for a 23-yard touchdown throw on a fourth down for the Zephyrs.
Parkland, which recorded its first first down in the final minute of the opening quarter, responded. Ruisch hooked up with Tyler Hays on a 42-yard fade route down the left side of the field to tie the game at 7-7 on the first play of the second quarter.
“They were playing man there, and I knew I had Hayes, our deep threat, going one-on-one down the field,” Ruisch said “I gave him a shot and he came down with it.”
Mistakes plagued the Trojans once again. After Ruisch threw an interception that gave the ball back to Whitehall (4-2), the Zephyrs kept a drive alive after a late-hit penalty. Another late-hit penalty on the next play brought the ball to Parkland’s 21-yard line, and Dabriel Ayala rumbled into the end zone shortly later.
“That kind of stuff happens, but with our team that’s not acceptable,” Ruisch said. “We have to clear that stuff up. Other than that we played great. Our offensive line, I give a big shout out to them. They’ve kept me sackless the past three weeks.”
Parkland, however, would right the ship behind its leading rusher Jahan Worth, who had with 78 yards on the ground. Worth scored two 1-yard rushing touchdowns in the final three minutes of the first half. The second one came with 11 seconds remaining in the half to give the Trojans their first lead of the game at 21-14.
Whitehall tied the game early in the fourth quarter with Parvel’s second touchdown of the game, but Parkland dominated the remainder of the fourth quarter to remain unbeaten.