Brandon Harris threw four touchdown passes and ran for one to lead the Parkway Panthers to a 41-26 District 1-5A victory over the Haughton Buccaneers Thursday night at Preston Crownover Stadium.
The victory virtually assures that the Panthers (8-1, 3-1) will host a first-round playoff game two weeks from today.
Parkway came into the game No. 10 in the LHSAA’s Class 5A power ratings. The top 16 teams host first-round game.
The Panthers still have a shot at a share of the district title, but Byrd will have to defeat Airline next Friday.
“Our kids played with heart all night,” Parkway coach David Feaster said. “Both teams showed a lot of athletic ability and both teams made mistakes. We were able to overcome our mistakes and in some instances they weren’t. Our defense rose up when they had a chance.”
Haughton (6-3, 1-3) came into the game with a power rating of 22. The Bucs face 1-5A cellar dweller Southwood in their season finale. If they win that one, which is likely, they will be on the road for a first-round playoff game.
“We made too many mistakes,” Haughton coach Rodney Guin said. “We had too many penalties. They’re good, but I thought we fought hard there at the end.”
Harris completed 10 of 20 passes for 254 yards. He also had a 21-yard touchdown run for the Panthers’ first score of the game.
He wasn’t the only Panther who had a big night. Brodrick Jefferson caught five passes for 178 yards. He had touchdown receptions of 48 and 78 yards. He also had a 36-yard catch that set up a score.
On the 48-yarder, Harris hit Jefferson in stride running down the right sideline.
On the 78-yarder, two Bucs tried to push Jefferson out of bounds around midfield, but he somehow stayed in bounds and ran down the sideline for the TD.
Demetrius McAtee rushed for 146 yards on 11 carries and scored a touchdown.
Hunter Huckaby caught a 20-yard touchdown pass and Holden Orgeron had a 44-yard TD catch that gave the Panthers the 41-26 lead with 5:53 left in the game.
Thursday’s game was broadcast around the state on Cox Sports Television, and fans in the stands and at home got to see plenty of action.
Leading 34-19 late in the third quarter, the Parkway had a chance to take complete control.
After a failed Haughton fake punt, the Panthers took over at the Bucs 40 and drove to a first-and-goal at the 8.
Two plays later it the ball was on the one-inch line. With time running out on the play clock, Parkway was flagged with a motion penalty that moved the ball back to the 5.
Haughton’s William Haines intercepted a Harris pass right at the goalline for a touchback.
The Bucs then drove 80 yards for a touchdown to get within eight with 9:05 still left on the clock.
The big play in the drive was a 42-yard pass from James David Almond to Jermichael Bell. Jarred Craft got the TD on a 1-yard run.
On its next possession, Parkway faced a fourth-and-1 from the Haughton 49. Harris kept up the middle and barely got the first down.
Three plays later, Parkway faced a fourth-and-6 from the Haughton 44. Harris found Orgeron wide open behind the Bucs secondary for the final touchdown of the game.
The Panthers raced to a 14-3 lead, only to watch the Bucs come back and go ahead 16-14.
Parkway answered with two straight touchdowns to take a 27-16 lead. But Haughton got 22-yard Benny Broadway field goal with 11 seconds left in the half to cut the lead to eight.
Penalties hurt the Bucs. They had two kickoff returns for touchdowns called back.
The first one, by Jerrod Craft, didn’t hurt because Haughton scored on the next play on a 44-yard middle screen from Almond Jarred to Craft.
The second one, a 93-yarder by Micah Larkins, did hurt because the ball was brought back to the 20 and the Bucs were eventually forced to punt.
An illegal procedure penalty also erased a 22-yard pass to Jarred Craft that would’ve give the Bucs a first down at the Parkway 33 midway through the third quarter.
Haughton also botched a hook-and-lateral play that set up Parkway’s first touchdown of the second half.
Almond completed 17 of 27 passes for 255 yards. In addition to his TD pass to Craft, he threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jermichael Bell who made a nice catch on a fade route deep in the corner of the end zone.
Jarred Craft rushed for 94 yards on 20 carries.
Broadway had a 38-yard field goal to go with his 22-yarder.