Parklane blanks BA

Published 4:37 pm Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Going into the Friday night matchup against the class AAA Parklane Pioneers, Brookhaven Academy Coach Tripp McCarty commented earlier in the week as if preparing for a 15-round slugfest, “We’ve got to do a great job of being physical on both sides of the ball against a real good Parklane football team.”

McCarty continued, “Our focus this week in practice has primarily been on eliminating week one defensive mistakes and our push in the trenches.”

True to prediction, the Parklane Pioneers came out swinging behind dominating offensive and defensive line play and senior signal caller Brady Lea, who had three touchdowns to his credit on the evening.

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Parklane would take first possessions after a 30-yard kickoff return, and Lea would engineer a 43-yard touchdown drive culminated on a nine-yard scoring pass to Carr Young. The PAT failed at the 8:27 mark of the first quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff to the Cougars, a fumbled sky-kick and Parklane recovery put the Pioneers in business again at the Cougar 29-yard line.

On queue, the Cougar defense stood tall and held the Pioneers on downs to get the ball back and their first offensive possession at their own 24-yard line. Unable to muster any offensive threats, BA was forced to punt the ball back to Parklane.

Both squads would trade punts, winding out the first quarter of play with the Pioneers holding a narrow 6-0 lead.

In the second quarter, Lea then hit Conner Travis on a crossing pattern for a seven-yard touchdown pass. Zach McDaniel split the uprights for the PAT, giving the Pioneers a 13-0 advantage with 8:40 to play in the half. McDaniel would add a first half-ending 36-yard field goal and send the teams to their locker rooms with Parklane in control at that point, leading 16-0.

It would be crucial for the Cougars to establish an offensive push coming out in the second half. However, defensive back Logan Morel had other ideas, stepping in front of a Heath Hickman pass for a interception on the second play of the third quarter to give the Pioneers possession at the BA 49-yard line.

The Cougar defense would stand firm and a 42-yard McDaniel field goal attempt sailed wide left, allowing the Cougar faithful to breathe a sigh of momentary relief.

Neither team was able to establish a push deep into the other’s territory until the Cougars mounted a late third quarter drive overcoming consecutive holding penalties on big gains then facing a crucial fourth down and three yards to go in Pioneer territory.

BA Senior running back Landon Nettles bounced off a hit in the backfield and muscled his way through the Pioneer defenders to keep the Cougars’ hopes and the drive alive with a hard-fought five-yard run on fourth down.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, up against another fourth-down play at the Parklane 29-yard line, a drive-sustaining pass was tipped away by a Pioneer defender at the last second, stopping BA’s hopes of putting points on the board.

Parklane’s next possession would be aided by what many in attendance felt was a back-breaking play and certainly the most unusual of the night. An initial 10-yard run by Dan Gill was followed by multiple fumbles from that point after being hit by a Cougar defender that ultimately netted a 34-yard gain for the Pioneers to the Cougar 32-yard line.

Lea would call his own number from there and close the door on the Cougars with a 32-yard touchdown run and a McDaniel PAT that wrapped the scoring up for the night and the Pioneer victory at 23-0.

The statistics pretty much aligned with the score of the game with Parklane generating 327 total yards of offense led by Lea, who finished the night eight for 18 passing with two touchdowns, along with 91 yards rushing on the ground and a score.

Dan Gill added 116 yards rushing on the night for the Pioneers.

For the Cougars, junior quarterback Heath Hickman was nine for 20 passing for 100 yards. Hickman also has 19 rushing yards on four carries.

Landon Nettles lead the Cougars in rushing with 54 yards on 14 carries. Jacob Thurman and Steven Williams each had four catches for the Cougar receiving department with 50 yards and 45 yards total, respectively.

Michael Fiorella led the defensive attack for the Cougars with eight tackles and a fumble recovery to his credit. Brock Ezell had six tackles, and Carter Culbertson, Ethan Harris and Landon Nettles each had five stops on the evening. Culbertson also forced a fumble on a jarring hit in the Parklane backfield.

Coach McCarty commented on the game after the tough outing, “We are going to work harder than any team that takes the practice field this week to get better.”

He continued, “Our young men have to establish their identity and get some fire in their bellies about who they want to be, and we as coaches have to make sure that happens.”

The Cougars are back on the road next week against a newcomer to their conference, the Prentiss Christian Saints, for their first district contest of the season. Game time is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff in Prentiss.