High school football: Richmond, defense help Parkway hold off Byrd

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Randy Brown/Press-Tribune

The Parkway Panthers stopped a two-point conversion attempt late in the fourth quarter to preserve a 14-13 victory over the Byrd Yellow Jackets in a District 1-5A game Friday night at Bobby Marlow Field/Preston Crownover Stadium.

Parkway improved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in district. Byrd dropped to 1-5 and 1-2.

The Panthers led 14-0 at the half. But the Jackets rallied in the second, scoring on a 93-yard drive in the third quarter and a 75-yard pass on third-and-25 with just more than three minutes left in the game.

Byrd lined up in the swinging gate formation for the PAT after the second TD.

“I thought they were just going to bring the gate over and kick the extra point to tie it, but I guess (Byrd head coach Mike Suggs) saw something that he liked so they went to like a trick play right there,” Parkway head coach Neil May said. “We were able to get some pressure on the quarterback and picked it off in the end zone.”

After blocking a 27-yard field goal attempt with about a minute to play, Byrd had one more chance. But on fourth-and-2 from the Jackets 23, Terrence Murray made a tackle for a 6-yard loss.

“It was a deal where, gosh, our defense played lights out all night long,” May said.

Sophomore running back Rontavious Richmond had a big night for the Panthers. He rushed for 174 yards on 29 carries. On one third-quarter drive that ended at the Byrd 7 with an incomplete pass, Richmond carried the ball seven straight times.

He scored Parkway’s second touchdown on an 8-yard run late in the first half one play after gaining 28 yards. Richmond then caught a two-point conversion pass from Gabe Larry.

“Rontavious had a great game tonight,” May said. “He carried the load for us. He ran hard. He was wore out and just kept on going.”

Parkway’s first TD came after Brady Norcross intercepted a pass and returned it 25 yards to the Byrd 21.

Richmond carried three times and then Larry ran for three yards on fourth-and-1. Larry followed that with a 9-yard TD run. He was hit hard at the 2 but still managed to get the ball across the goalline near the pylon.

A big defensive stop set up Parkway’s second touchdown. Norcross, Murray and Trenton DeFatta stopped a Byrd back for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-3 from the Parkway 46.

The Panthers had a golden opportunity to put more points on the board before the half when Malik Cooper returned an interception 20 yards to the Jackets 28.

Parkway moved the ball to the 7. Richmond ran to the 2 but a holding penalty negated the play. Byrd then got a sack and an interception to end the threat.

The Panthers kept the ball mostly on the ground, rushing for 227 yards. Larry attempted only 13 passes, completing four for 40 yards.

But May said the yardage total should have been higher.

“Gabe did a good job of managing the offense,” he said. “We had a couple of dropped balls again tonight. One was in the end zone for a touchdown. That’s certainly something we’ve got to get better at. Gabe’s putting it on the money. We’re going to have to catch it better. We’re growing. We’re young, young. We’re just trying to get better every week.”

Per Parkway stats, Connor Norcross led the defense with 11 tackles (four solo, seven assists). Murray was in on nine tackles and Adam Johnson eight. DeFatta and Deangelo McCoy were in on seven each.

Parkway hosts Airline Friday. The Vikings (5-1,3-0) knocked off previously undefeated Haughton 22-19 Friday night.

“The Airline-Parkway game is a crosstown rivalry,” May said. “Our kids will be excited. I know their kids will be excited coming of their big win against Haughton. We did not get to play each other this year in the jamboree because of the weather. It’ll be a lot of fun to play them next Friday. They’re certainly playing well. We’re playing well enough to win but we still feel we haven’t peaked yet.”