Pierce Smith looks downfield after throwing a pass in last Friday’s matchup.
Pierce Smith looks downfield after throwing a pass in last Friday’s matchup.
 McCOMB – Popular folklore has credited former Notre Dame player and coach Knute Rockne with the innovation of the forward pass way back in the early 1900’s. Some historians point to former St. Louis University coach Eddie Cochems or Howard R. Reiter of Wesleyan University.

Irregardless, the news still hasn’t reached these parts. That is said tongue and cheek, of course. Parklane knows all about the pass, they just treat it with disdain. After all, why pass when you can run the ball as effectively as the Pioneers do?

Parklane’s power running game was on full display here on Friday night, as the senior-laden Pioneers steamrolled their way to a monumental 47-28 victory over visiting MRA before a raucous, standing-room-only homecoming crowd at Charlie Newlon Field.

Running behind a gargantuan offensive line, Parklane’s high-quality stable of backs compiled 469 rushing yards, 285 of those coming in the second half as the Pioneers pulled away from a 28-28 halftime tie en route to their first victory over MRA in nearly two decades. Parklane passed the ball only three times all night, two of those coming on the first drive. Forty-five of the Pioneers’ final 46 plays were runs, including 25 straight running plays in the second half.

Parklane, operating out of the double wing, averaged 9.9 yards per rushing attempt, and all seven of the Pioneers’ touchdowns came courtesy of the ground (and pound) game. Coach Brian Stutzman’s club scored on seven of 11 offensive possessions. It fumbled on two of those, and essentially ran out the clock to end the first half and second half on the other two. Parklane never punted.

“It’s like I told people all week, if we couldn’t get off the field against the double-wing it’s going to be a long night, and that’s exactly what happened,” MRA coach Herbert Davis said. “They just out-physicalled us. We couldn’t make a play, couldn’t get a stop. Through the years (double-wing) has been the toughest offense I’ve ever faced because once they get going it’s really hard to adjust to. If they’re in spread, you may can run a blitz or change a front here and there. But they’re not going to change anything. They are going to block down or base you and come off the football. It really becomes a physical aspect honestly. That’s what we didn’t have tonight.”

Parklane, ranked No. 2 in The Clarion-Ledger Class AAAA poll, improved to 7-0. The Pioneers are off to their best start since 1995. No. 4 MRA, coming off an emotional 31-28 victory at St. Stanislaus a week ago, dropped to 5-2 overall and 0-1 in conference play entering Friday’s homecoming game against rival Jackson Academy.

“We didn’t answer the way I hoped we would coming off that big win last week,” Davis said. “We kind of read the papers too much or something. It’s like I told them, everything matters every day. We’ve got to build off that, not go backwards. It’s about getting better every week, selling out and doing whatever it takes to be a champion every practice. We can’t point fingers, or we can come together and start getting better, starting Monday. We’ve got a lot of things to fix. One of them is getting mentally tougher and more physical.”

Parklane, which is averaging 354 yards per game on the ground this season, led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and 21-0 less than a minute into the second quarter. However, sparked by a 65-yard touchdown run from Jake Reeves, MRA responded with 21 unanswered points over the next 157 seconds to knot the score 21-21. The Patriots came up with a pair of fumble recoveries, one following a sack and the other on a kickoff, setting up a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Pierce Smith to Lee Tanner covering 35 and 24 yards, respectively.

Parklane regained the lead 28-21 a few minutes later, before MRA answered with a 10-yard touchdown run from Smith with 24 seconds remaining before halftime. As it turned out, those were the last points of the night for the Patriots, who couldn’t hold serve with the Pioneers in the second half.

“I was worried about this tonight,” Davis said. “I knew we needed to score some points against them. I felt pretty good at the half, and then we came out and just got stale (offensively) in the second half. We didn’t move the football, really didn’t do anything good the second half. They are playing five people in the box and we couldn’t run the football. We can’t allow people to do that or we’re going to have a lot of long nights. Hats off to them. They played their butts off.”

Two years ago, on this very field, MRA scored 26 unanswered points in the second half to break a 7-7 halftime tie on its way to a 33-7 victory. Last year, MRA won 41-21 in Madison. This night belonged to Parklane, however, especially the final 24 minutes.

MRA recovered yet another fumble on the second play of the second half, this time at the Parklane 40-yard line. The Patriots, however, failed to cash in as they failed to convert on fourth-and-short. The Pioneers marched down the field to take a 35-28 lead, and they scored again to go ahead 41-28 two minutes later after MRA once again failed to convert on fourth down from Parklane’s 24-yard line. Trent Coleman provided the dagger on the very next play, scampering 76 yards for the score. For good measure, Coleman raced 68 yards for another touchdown on Parklane’s next possession.

Coleman finished with 238 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 15 carries. Jay Smith, Parklane’s leading rusher, had 135 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the season. The Pioneers completed two of the three passes they threw, pushing their grand total to 14 complete passes for the entire season. No doubt, Parklane has found a formula for success – to the tune of an average of 40.9 points per game.

MRA had allowed an average of 17.1 points per game through its first six games. The Patriots had allowed an average of 142.6 rushing yards per game coming in; Parklane had 135 rushing yards less than one minute into the second quarter and 184 at halftime.

There were some bright spots for MRA. Reeves finished with a hard-earned 152 yards on 27 carries, including the aforementioned long touchdown run. The senior is now just 18 yards shy of 1,000 yards rushing for the season. Smith completed a season-best 17 passes and threw for a season-high 209 yards. He has now thrown for 1,062 yards this season. Smith also spread the ball around to someone other than Tanner. Bailey Rademacher (4 catches, 58 yards), John Cartwright, Joe Perkins, Patrick White and Reeves caught at least one pass. Tanner finished with seven catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns. The senior wideout now has 103 catches and 15 touchdown receptions in his career. William Milam contributed 54 yards on six carries, pushing him past the 1,000-yard rushing mark for his career.

MRA compiled 433 yards of total offense, 224 rushing and 209 passing. The Patriots also tallied 21 first downs. MRA also came away with three takeaways, pushing its season-total to 14.

Still, they didn’t have enough in the arsenal to keep pace with Coleman, Smith and Co.