Eric “EJ” Williams rushed for 225 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Parkway Panthers to a 49-29 Diatrict 1-5A victory over the Captain Shreve Gators on Friday night at Bobby Marlow Field at Preston Crownover Stadium.
Parkway improved to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in district. Shreve fell to 3-3 and 0-2 with its third straight loss.
Parkway junior quarterback Amani Larry didn’t put the ball in the air much, but he was effective when he did. Larry completed five of six passes for 112 yards, including touchdowns of 34 yards to Kendal Brown and 13 to Israel Mukuamu.
Parkway coach Neil May said the Panthers offensive line of Christion Raynor, Deriyon Eloph, Carson Sanders, Anthony Jones and Conner Cloinger deserves much of the credit for the team’s success.
“Those guys just did a heck of a job opening up holes for Amani Larry and EJ Williams and KendalL Brown,” May said “Of course, Kendal and Amani and EJ were lights out tonight. They ran the ball well.
“Amani was able to throw it down the field with success and throw it to the perimeter with success. We just did a great job offensively.”
Williams’ TDs covered 2, 13, 7 and 53 yards. The latter sealed the victory after the Gators cut the lead to 42-29 with 6:51 to play.
Brown had a 51-yard run and also scored from 4 yards out. Jalen Brown had a 41-yard catch.
The Gators’ offense kept Shreve in the game, but Parkway’s defense came up with some key stops.
“The defensive guys, they all fought hard,” May said “Hats off to Captain Shreve. I knew going into the game that their offensive line is very good. This is one of the best offensive lines they’ve had in several years. They have a lot of size.
“Certainly we’re down a little bit in size on defense. We’ve just got a bunch of kids who get out there and fight hard, but we don’t have a bunch of big kids. So we’re proud of our kids for hanging tough and fighting.”
David Bennett was in on 16 tackles and David Morales 15, per Parkway stats. Mukuamu was in on 10, Brandon Nelson nine and Derious Bradford eight.
Marcus Drayden Jr. and Rayshion Cook were in on seven each.
Christian Galvan recovered a fumble.
Parkway has now won two straight since losing three in a row to three of the region’s top teams. The Panthers also lost two of the nation’s top offensive players in quarterback Justin Rogers and receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. to injuries in the first two games of the season.
“We kind of had to find a new identity,” May said “It was real hard trying to find that identity when we were going through the gauntlet of Pearl, Pulaski and Evangel. We kind of feel like we knew what direction we were going to. It was hard to get to it.
“In those three games Amani, that was his first three starts as a quarterback. We feel like we kind of settled in on what we want to do and now those kids are getting comfortable. They’re executing better what we feel like we can accomplish offensively. They’re doing a great job.”
Parkway faces Byrd Friday at Lee Hedges Stadium. The Yellow Jackets (4-2, 2-1) defeated Southwood 43-13 Thursday night.
— Russell Hedges, email@example.com