Trojans edge ACC
The adage is football is a game of inches.
In both the Parkland and Central Catholic football teams’ perspective, that was never more true in their most recent meeting.
On an attempted pass into the end zone on the final play of the game as time expired, the ball went through the hands of a leaping Vikings wide receiver for an incomplete pass. A couple of inches lower, that ball may have been caught.
But as it stood, the Trojans (2-0 overall, 1-0 EPC South Division) held on for a 14-8 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference South Division opening win last Friday night at Parkland School District Stadium.
It was a hard-fought victory as both teams gave each other their best shot and moved the ball well, even though the score might not have indicated it.
“It was a great win for us,” said senior Nick Johnston, who caught one of the two touchdowns scored for Parkland on the night. “We knew they were going to come in here and give us their best shot, and they did. They’re a good team. We might have been looking ahead [to Freedom] a little to next week, but it just feels good to be able to hold on for this one.”
Parkland has a matchup against defending District 11 Class 6A champion Freedom looming next week.
Parkland scored the game’s first two touchdowns against Central Catholic, both of which came in the opening quarter.
Senior quarterback Tanner Lewis rushed into the end zone from 17 yards out, capping a seven-play, 59-yard drive on the first series of the game. Lewis then connected with Johnston in the middle of the field for a 48-yard touchdown reception and a 14-0 lead with 15 seconds left in the first quarter.
Offensive coordinator Chris Kinane likes to use the senior in the slot. Johnston has no problem with that.
“I’ll play wherever I can help the team win,” Johnston said. “I like having the ball in my hands and making plays for the team, but if I’m needed to block I will do that too.”
With a double-digit lead after one quarter, it looked as if the Trojans were going to have an easy night. But that was far from the case.
The Vikings (1-1, 0-1) put together an 11-play, 72-yard touchdown drive to answer Parkland’s second touchdown. They then were successful on a two-point conversion, and all of a sudden were six points away from being in the lead with two and a half quarters to play.
Central had another long drive on its next possession and was sitting at the Trojan 15-yard line. But Richard Kerrick made sure there wouldn’t be another score, as the senior came up with an interception and the teams went into the locker rooms with the score still 14-8.
Once again, long Vikings drives highlighted the third quarter as they had consecutive drives of 16 and 14 plays respectively. But both were hindered by Parkland sacks. The Trojans had just one possession in the third quarter on offense, a three-and-out.
They also had a quick three-and-out to start the fourth, and then held Central in check on back-to-back possessions, the latter in the waning seconds with defensive backs Chris Lessel and Johnston soaring up to defend a Vikings prayer in the end zone.
Isiah Rico ran 17 times for 77 yards. Johnston had three catches for 67 yards and the touchdown. Lewis went 5-for-11 for 90 yards and a touchdown through the air, and finished with seven rushing attempts for 33 yards and a score.
Parkland hosts undefeated and defending district champion Freedom this Friday night back at Parkland School District Stadium.