In a Class 5A quarterfinal that matched two explosive offenses, it was defense that seized the day for Parkway on Friday night at Destrehan. The Panthers took advantage of seven Destrehan turnovers and advanced with a 49-34 win.
Parkway (12-1) will travel to No. 2-seeded Zachary in next week’s semifinals. Destrehan (11-1) had its 24-game home winning streak snapped.
Destrehan and Parkway entered Friday’s game averaging more than 40 points per game. While the Wildcats amassed 682 total yards, the Panthers intercepted DHS quarterback Kohen Granier four times and recovered three fumbles. Granier threw for 453 yards and five touchdowns and Karon Taylor rushed for 176 yards for Destrehan.
“You can’t turn the ball over like we did. That was the key,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “Whenever you turn the ball over that many times to a good football team, it will bite you. It did. I thought even though we had those turnovers, it became a one-point game late in the game but we could not overcome. My hats off to them. They have a great skill set on that football team. Their quarterback is a great player. You can’t make the mistakes against that type of them.”
Parkway coach David Feaster also said turnovers were a key.
“We have so much respect for the last two teams we played, but we have to get up again for Zachary,” Feaster said. “Our team turned it over once or twice We were playing against a tremendous team. Our guys are making plays unbelievably. They have a great quarterback, great receivers and they do a great job running the football. How we came up with seven turnovers against them, I don’t know. It was a gutsy performance on the part of our little guys.”
The first quarter served notice that the game would live up to the high-scoring affair that was expected. On the first play from scrimmage, Parkway quarterback Keondre Wudtee, a Louisiana Tech commitment, and Terrance Marshall, a Mississippi State commitment, hooked up on a 42-yard completion. Two plays later Robert McKnight capped the 74-yard drive with a 2-yard TD plunge. Over the next minute and a half, Destrehan and Parkway traded scores. On the third play of the ensuing drive, Granier connected on a 20-yard scoring pass to John Williams to tie the score at 7. On the second play of its next drive, Parkway moved ahead on a 76-yard touchdown pass from Wudtee to Marshall.
The Wildcats tied it 14-14 less than two minutes later on Granier’s 34-yard pass to Tramaine Armstrong. Parkway moved ahead again towards the end of the first quarter on Wudkee’s 8-yard pass to C.J. Morgan.
Ironically, the second quarter was scoreless.
Parkway extended its lead with two quick scores in the third quarter, and Destrehan found itself in a 35-14 hole. On its first possession of the third quarter, Parkway went on a 75-yard drive, capped by McKnight’s 1-yard TD run. The Panthers then recovered a DHS fumble and turned it into quick points on Wudtee’s 38-yard pass to McKnight.
The Wildcats rallied by scoring 20 unanswered points. Granier hit Armstrong on a 9-yard scoring strike and found Justin Jefferson with an 11-yard scoring pass early in the fourth quarter to get DHS within 35-28. After a three-and-out by Parkway, Destrehan mounted a scoring drive that was culminated by Granier’s 25-yard TD pass to Williams. The extra point, however, was blocked, and Parkway clung to a 35-34 lead.
Parkway regained its offensive form and drove 60 yards to score with 4:33 left in the game on Wudkee’s 9-yard pass to Marshall and, after a successful two-point conversion from Wudtee to Kendall Brown, the Panthers had a 43-34 lead. Shortly after, Morgan’s 86-yard interception return iced the win for the Panthers.