By James Beasley
Turnovers proved costly for Copiah Academy last Friday night as Parklane Academy overcame an 8-7 deficit and went on to beat the Colonels 30-8 in McComb. It was déjà vu for CA as play was halted after three quarters while an ambulance was summoned for an injured Parklane player. Just last week, the game at Hillcrest Christian School was suspended after three quarters with the Colonels leading 44-0 after Cougar head coach Tommy Roberts collapsed on the sideline. This time, play finally resumed after Taylor Burt was taken to a local hospital as a precautionary measure following a neck injury.
On Parklane’s first possession, the Pioneers drove 54 yards in 6 plays, with Joseph Clark scoring the touchdown on a one-yard run. Zack McDaniel kicked the PAT, and Parklane led 7-0 with 8:20 left in the opening period. On the drive, quarterback Brady Lea completed passes of 10 and 18 yards, respectively.
Copiah responded with an 80-yard drive of its own. Quarterback Ryan Drew threw for 12 yards to Dillon Martin and 11 yards to Bryce Berry, and then connected with Martin for a 55-yard TD with 7:11 remaining in the first quarter. Drew then lofted a pass into the end zone, where Berry made a leaping catch for the 2-point conversion and an 8-7 lead.
Two plays later, Martin intercepted a Pioneer pass at his own 23-yard line. After the Colonels failed to move the ball, Parklane blocked the punt and Justin Reynolds scooped the ball up and returned it 6 yards for a touchdown. McDaniel added the PAT, and the Pioneers led 14-8 midway through the period.
On CA’s ensuing possession, Drew completed a 35-yard pass to Berry, but the brief drive was stopped on Logan Morel’s interception at his own 37. On the next play, Clark ran for 26 yards before fumbling the ball, allowing the Colonels’ Justin Edwards to recover and return it to the Parklane 47. A personal foul on the Pioneers after the play gave CA outstanding field position at the Parklane 31.
Moments later, the Colonels had the ball inside the five, but Parklane’s Dan Gill stopped the Colonels’ drive when he intercepted an errant pass in the end zone. Copiah got the ball back early in the second quarter, but two plays later turned the ball over on Zach Stutzman’s interception at midfield.
From there, the Pioneers drove 50 yards in 10 plays, consuming 4 minutes and finally scoring on Lea’s 4-yard pass to Gill. Once again, McDaniel added the PAT and Parklane led 21-8 with 5:31 remaining in the half. The Pioneers recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and scored on a 72-yard pass from Lea to Gill, only to have it called back due to a holding penalty. An interception by Copiah’s Peyton Murphy gave the Colonels an opportunity with 2:54 left. But Gill’s interception moments later set up McDaniel’s 41-yard field goal on the last play of the half, giving the Pioneers a 24-8 lead at intermission.
Gill returned the second half kickoff into Copiah territory, and the Pioneers eventually had a first-and-goal at the CA 6. Four times the Colonel defense rose up and stopped Parklane, with Thomas Roberson recovering a Pioneer fumble on fourth down.
Dillon Martin halted another Parklane drive when he recovered a fumble at his own 30. Two plays later, he caught a screen pass and turned it into a 17-yard gain. After Copiah was forced to punt, Gill ran left, turned the corner, and raced 72 yards for the Pioneers’ final touchdown of the night. The PAT was no good.
An 11-yard pass completion from Drew to Berry and another interception by Martin were about the only other Copiah highlights during the remainder of the game.
The Colonels were missing Ty Quick (appendectomy), Austin Stringer (knee), and Tristen Patino during the game. Others played even though they were banged up, but head coach Scotty Cline refused to use the injuries as an excuse. “At times we played well,” he said afterwards. “We moved the ball and had a couple of big plays, but you can’t have 7 turnovers against a good football team and expect to win.”
“We were sloppy on offense,” first-year Parklane coach Mike Powell said. “But our defense played well, especially in the second half. They did a great job scheming us, and we had to make a lot of adjustments at halftime. I thought the blocked punt and the field goal just before halftime gave us some huge momentum.”
Parklane (8-2) will host Jackson Prep this Friday night in a game with playoff implications. Meanwhile, Copiah (1-9) will conclude its season by hosting East Rankin Academy on Senior Night in Gallman. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
By James Beasley