For 52 plays, Parkview’s defense and special teams did a tremendous job of shutting down Stephenson’s bevy of college-bound athletes.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the Jaguars had the ball in their hands for 54 plays.
Those other two – a reverse-field 79-yard touchdown run from Mike Davis and a 75-yard punt return for a score by Demarcus Sweat – sunk Parkview’s hopes of an upset in No. 6 Stephenson’s 14-3 win.
Both of those plays, along with all 17 of the game’s points, came during a wild third quarter that also featured a controversial kick catch interference call against the Jags, a Parkview turnover that immediately turned into a Stephenson score and a second-and-30 conversion for the Panthers.
But it was the two big Stephenson plays that stood out in the end, the first coming virtue of the legs and vision of Davis.
The play was meant for Davis to go right, but he stopped and cut back to the other side of the field. He got around the corner, then stopped and cut back right to elude one tackler, stumbled ahead, cut back again to the right, broke another tackle, then sprinted to the end zone.
It was a scintillating run, made all the more exciting for the Jags because it erased a 3-0 deficit and gave them their first lead of the game.
“I saw a cutback lane; as soon as I saw it, I had to take it,” said Davis, who finished with a game-high 173 yards on 21 carries. “The team, we were down 3-0. I just wanted to make a big play. It was that time. Coach wanted me to do my thing, and that’s what I did.”
It didn’t take long for his teammate to get in on the act.
At the end of Parkview’s next possession, the Panthers’ punt drove Sweat back to his 25-yard line. He caught it while back pedaling, accelerated between two defenders, then hit the left sideline, following a host of blockers into the end zone for the Jags’ second big play of the quarter.
It was a quick 1-2 blow that belied the intense defensive struggle that stretched for the vast majority of the game. Outside of those two plays, Stephenson rarely made a serious threat to get into the end zone.
Likewise for Parkview, which had just two first downs in the first half but then started the second half with the only sustained drive for either team on the night.
The Panthers went 62 yards in 13 plays but couldn’t punch it into the end zone, settling for a 27-yard field goal that put them in front before Davis busted open two Stephenson possessions later.
Much like last season’s 21-14 double-overtime Jaguar victory, the pregame expectations were for points to be at a premium, and that’s exactly what happened.
“We knew this was going to be a tough game; they’re a very good team, and they do a very good job on defense,” Stephenson coach Ron Gartrell said. “Anyone who came out here expecting a scoring bonanza was going to be disappointed.”
P – Jack Kammer 27 FG
S – Mike Davis 79 run (Wisdom Nzidee kick)
S – Demarcus Sweat 75 punt return (Nzidee kick)
Parkview 0 0 3 0 – 3
Stephenson 0 0 14 0 – 14