Hornets hand PHS loss in season finale
The Emmaus High School Marching Band was performing the 1982 Michael Jackson classic “Thriller” as the Parkland Trojans were on what proved to be their final offensive drive in their Oct. 26 game against the Green Hornets.
It was an apt musical selection, as this year’s edition of the Battle of Cedar Crest Boulevard was certainly a thriller. Down four points with two minutes remaining, Trojan quarterback Tanner Lewis had the boys methodically on the move for the go-ahead and possible winning touchdown.
But this thriller ended in a Vincent Price-like nightmare. In the final minute, Emmaus’ Timmy Higgins sacked Lewis. The blow dislodged the ball from Lewis’ grip, and the Green Hornets’ Adam Heiserman recovered on the Emmaus 18-yard line.
Moments later, Emmaus converted a fourth down play and then ran out the remainder of the clock, resulting in a 35-31 Parkland loss in the season’s final regular season game.
In the postgame, Parkland coach Tim Moncman told his players not to hang their heads, and praised them for rebounding from the previous week’s blowout loss to Easton.
He acknowledged “we made some mistakes,” but vowed “to fix that” before their upcoming playoff game.
“Some things happened at the end,” Moncman said. “We just can’t control that.”
The loss dropped Parkland to 6-4 overall and 4-4 in the EPC and was their second consecutive defeat. The good news for Parkland is they did enough this year to receive a District 11 Class 6A playoff birth as the fifth seed. Their quarterfinal contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Nov. 2 at Ross Stulgaitis Stadium against fourth-seeded Stroudsburg.
The loss to the Hornets stung the Trojans, but even in the immediate aftermath of the defeat, Parkland was looking ahead. The playoffs present a new season and frankly, the most important season. That’s what Parkland coach Tim Moncman chose to focus on in his post-game analysis.
“The truth is 6-4 goes away now. Now it’s a new season,” Moncman said. “Traditionally this is where we decide to control our own destiny. Clean slate for everybody. Now it’s just one at a time.”
The Trojans put up a valiant fight for 48 rough-and-tumble minutes, in which the lead exchanged hands several times.
After Emmaus broke on top with a Sone Ntoh touchdown run early, Parkland quickly responded, as Lewis sprinted for a 66-yard touchdown run in the first quarter for a 7-7 tie. The Trojans then went ahead as Christian Suriel returned a fumble four yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
After Emmaus responded with a touchdown pass from quarterback Ethan Parvel to wide receiver Deonte Castro for 28 yards to tie it at 14-14, Parkland took the lead after another fumble recovery set up a field goal to give Parkland a 17-14 lead. However Emmaus went on a touchdown drive, entering halftime with a 21-17 advantage.
Two primary storylines developed throughout the game. One was that Parkland’s defense proved unable to control Parvel, who completed 14 of 20 tosses for 181 yards and two touchdowns on the night. He also gained modest but consistent yardage as a runner, finishing with 46 yards on 13 carries.
Second was Parkland’s defense had no answer for the freight truck known as Ntoh, who had 114 yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns. Emmaus was without elusive running back Lubens Myers, who was unavailable due to injury. Ntoh punished Trojan defenders by churning his strong legs on almost every one of his 13 carries for consistent gains.
Parkland’s rushing attack was also prodigious. Trojan offensive linemen generally blocked well, trapping, puling and ramming forward effectively all night. The allowed Parkland runners to knife through modest holes to amass 245 rushing yards. Angel Santos ran boldly all game, and had two touchdown runs - two and five yards - in the second half. Both scores gave Parkland leads they ultimately could not hold. Lewis also acquired 89 yards running.
But it would not be enough. Emmaus won the game on a Parvel to Jameel Sanders 36-yard touchdown pass with 2:52 left in the fourth quarter. Sanders had three catches for 53 yards for Emmaus, while Castro caught six passes for 79 yards. All told, Emmaus had 380 yards of offense, compared to 310 yards for Parkland.
The Green Hornets also registered 21 first downs, compared to Parkland’s 15.
While the loss hurt, Parkland is looking forward. The quarterfinal playoff game against Stroudsburg is an opportunity for post-season glory.
“I’ll tell you, no one wants to play us right now,” Moncman said.
That’s probably because any opponent, including Stroudsburg, knows the game could prove to be a thriller.
The Trojans have won six straight district football titles and will need to win three games in a row for their seventh.