Parkersburg High scores late, downs Parkersburg South, 28-19
PARKERSBURG – Trailing Parkersburg South by one in the rivalry week tally of contests between the two schools, Parkersburg High needed a win from the football team to break even.
The Big Reds’ gridiron group obliged.
Austin Fleming scored a touchdown on a desperate onside kick attempt, the defense stood tall on first- and fourth-quarter goal line stands, and PHS avenged 2019’s 49-14 loss at Erickson All-Sports Facility, 28-19.
“The win part is awesome,” PHS head coach Mike Byus said. “I am so proud of our kids. We’ve struggled just to have enough kids to practice with injuries and COVID-19 issues we have had the last week in a half. We have struggled to just get enough kids at practice to teach them anything.”
That certainly was a good reason to sound relieved.
Byus and his group (2-2) nearly watched most of a 21-6 lead slip away in the second half. Still, South couldn’t finish the comeback. Patriot quarterback Robert Shockey did find the end zone from 20 yards out with 18.7 seconds left in the game.
Yet, the Patriots botched the two-point conversion. That’s when things went from bad to worse on the ensuing kickoff.
Fleming simply took the ball away from Parkersburg South’s Cyrus Traugh and ran into the end zone. Casey Stanley hit the point after and that was that. Fleming finished the night with a pair of touchdowns, while running seven times for 65 yards.
The score helped negate one of the Big Reds’ three lost fumbles.
“We about gave them the game to be honest,” Byus said. “Turnovers and penalties are really holding us back offensively.”
But the performance was enough on this night.
Fleming’s score put a damper on another multi-faceted night for Shockey. The Patriots’ sophomore quarterback ran for 125 yards and a score. He also completed 28 passes from 157 yards and two scores. Each of those went to Cyrus Traugh, who caught 13 passes for 95 yards.
“Robert showed a lot of grit and poise in several situations. He did a great job executing and made some good decisions,” Parkersburg South head coach Nate Tanner said.
Neither team could get anything going in the opening quarter of the game. PHS got in the red zone twice, but Parkersburg South held them out both times.
The last four minutes before halftime saw all the scoring in the first half. Austin Stalnaker broke free from his defender and PHS quarterback David Parsons found him for a 33-yard score with 4:40 remaining. Following a three-and-out from the Patriots, Fleming got loose on a 28-yard scoring scamper for a 14-0 lead.
South finally got on the board when Shockey and Traugh hooked up on their first score with 11.5 left on the clock. Trouble with the point after attempt left the tally at 14-6. Tanner thought his group was lucky to be there.
“Going into halftime the message was to settle down and not let our emotions get the best of us. I thought in the first and second quarter we had several mishaps where our guys were on a roller coaster of emotions,” he said.
The Patriots came out in the second half fired up. But their hosts weren’t quite as enthusiastic. “The whole second half I felt we put ourselves in a hole and had to go first and 15 on every drive almost,” Byus said.
Yet, Fleming’s scoop and score saved the game late.
The win capped off a week where the volleyball team and boys’ soccer team also won their matchups. It also served as a great boost before the Big Reds travel to Cabell Midland for a 7 p.m. matchup next Friday.
Parkersburg South returns home for a Ohio Valley Athletic Conference game with John Marshall at 7 p.m. Friday at Erickson Field.
Tanner’s excited to see what his kids have for the Monarchs.
“I thought our kids showed a lot of fight (against PHS) and I was proud of them sticking to the process until the very end. Many times, we could have folded up but we fought to the last whistle,” he said.