Eagles lean on ground game to top East Feliciana
Even with the game’s biggest attraction missing, Parkview Baptist and East Feliciana put on quite a District 6-3A opening act with plenty of star quality to go around.
Top-ranked Parkview Baptist turned to its “old school” ground game — a facet of that produced 474 yards and five touchdowns — in a breathtaking 53-39 victory Friday over East Feliciana in the league opener for both teams.
“We did what we had to do,” Parkview coach Kenny Guillot said. “Those guys can score anytime they get the ball. We tried to do our best to beat them, and that was to just keep the ball away from them.”
Senior running backs Hezekiah Randolph and Conner Hodgeson were at the heart of Parkview’s running game that enabled the homestanding Eagles (5-0) to win their 13th consecutive district game.
But it certainly wasn’t easy.
Randolph carried 24 times for 187 yards and three touchdowns to go along with receiving scores of 40 and 25 yards, capping his 249-yard output and five-touchdown outing. Hodgeson rushed 19 times for 185 yards with a touchdown, while Erik Martinez added 76 yards and a score on nine attempts.
Parkview rushed 62 times for its 474-yard total, with 251 of it coming in the second half on 37 carries.
“They did a really good job at the point of attack on the offensive line,” East Feliciana coach Cedric Anderson said. “They were able to move us around on defense, and the backs did a good job of keeping their feet moving. They had a great ground game against us.”
Parkview scored on four successive series in the second half and opened a 39-25 lead with nine minutes to go.
The Eagles relied on their tried-and-true method of grinding out scoring drives of 58, 75, 70 and 66 yards — taking more than 14 minutes off the clock — and turned a precarious 26-25 lead into a double-digit victory.
East Feliciana (2-3, 0-1) answered Parkview’s opening score of the third quarter with a 61-yard scoring strike from Thocorrece Hawkins to Kameron McKnight down the middle of the field. The Tigers trailed 26-25 midway through the quarter after a failed two-point run.
The Tigers were playing without three starters, including two-way starter and heralded recruit Kendall Beckwith because of a shoulder injury. They also lost starting linebacker Leroy Knighten to an undisclosed rib injury early in the fourth quarter that stopped play for nearly 20 minutes.
Hawkins, a sophomore, stepped in at quarterback and delivered 350 all-purpose yards and accounted for four touchdowns. He completed 10 of 22 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed 11 times for 75 yards and a pair of scores.
Wide receiver Danny Johnson Jr. caught seven passes for 153 yards and returned a kickoff 91 yards to account for the final score.
“One good thing about the kids and that’s we’re going to fight until the end,” Anderson said. “We fought and showed a lot of character and just came up short in these tough games.”
Over the next 10 minutes of play Parkview reeled off 20 unanswered points with scoring plays from three different players — Martinez on a 16-yard run, Hodgeson a 24-yard run and Randolph a 25-yard pass from quarterback Brennan Bozeman.
Randolph put the finishing touches on his memorable game with a 22-yard touchdown — his fifth overall — for a 53-33 advantage with 3:55 left after Taylor Black’s fourth successful extra point.
Hawkins’ 11-yard touchdown pass to Trent Anio with 3:51 left before halftime capped a furious back-and-forth first half with East Feliciana leading 19-18 on Jarvis Whitfield’s extra point.
The teams combined for 22 points and 284 yards in the opening quarter with Parkview pulling to within 12-10 on Randolph’s 4-yard run with 2:54 left.
Parkview took its first lead at 18-12 on a double pass with wide receiver Dillon Harris connecting in stride with Randolph, who completed the 40-yard scoring play with second effort and also added the two-point conversion.
East Feliciana, which led 6-0 and 12-3 in the first five minutes of the game, regained the lead on a 10-play, 73-yard drive that consumed just under four minutes.
The Tigers took advantage of a pair of third-down penalties that kept the series alive and resulted in Hawkins’ second TD pass of the half on third-and-goal following a 10-yard sack.
“We knew Beckwith’s a great player, but we knew there were still some great players on the field and they certainly showed that tonight,” Guillot said. “They played hard. That was a physical football game.”