ZACHARY — Three first-half turnovers and a blocked punt sent Zachary reeling, but the Broncos put together a second half to remember Friday night.
The second-seeded Broncos roared back from a seven-point deficit to oust No. 6 Parkway 41-27, and advance to the school’s first state championship game.
That game comes next week at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where Zachary (13-1) will face John Ehret, a 7-6 winner over Mandeville in the other 5A semifinal.
“It shows that we’re going in the right direction, and that we’re where we want to be,” Zachary coach David Brewerton said. “This community is great academically, and now we’re great football-wise. But we want to win this thing next week.”
Parkway (12-2) made it tough on the Broncos’ passing game, but it couldn’t contain the feet of Zachary quarterback Lindsey Scott. Scott rushed for 265 yards and had three touchdown runs in the decisive third quarter.
Scott’s runs of 24, 56 and 23 yards helped Zachary erase Parkway’s 20-13 halftime lead and gave the Broncos a 34-27 lead. Terry Sullivan, who ran for 167 yards and two scores, put the game out of reach with a late 24-yard touchdown run.
“As an old offensive line coach, that second half was beautiful to me,” Brewerton said. “I’m so proud of our offensive line. They played so well up front.”
Zachary’s defense was burned for two long touchdown passes by Parkway quarterback Deondre Wudtee. It tightened up in the second half when it stopped the Panthers on downs three times including a goal line stand late in the third.
Wudtee completed 18 of 34 passes for 295 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
“I told our kids a long time ago that losing in the semifinals feels just like losing in the state final,” said Parkway coach David Feaster, whose team lost to Acadiana in the 2014 state championship.
“It’s just like losing in the first round. We were so close and we didn’t get it done, but it was a remarkable season.”
Zachary was its own worst enemy in the first half. Of its seven possessions, the Broncos produced two touchdowns but were plagued by turnovers and mistakes. An interception and a fumble ended two Broncos’ drives, while another stalled before Parkway blocked a punt.
The mistakes made life easier for Parkway, which converted the blocked punt and one of the fumbles into short scoring drives. Parkway recovered another fumble inside its own 5, and then drove 97 yards for a touchdown.
The result was a 20-13 Parkway lead at halftime.
On Zachary’s first drive, Parkway recovered Scott’s mishandled exchange at midfield but didn‘t cash in. The Panthers drove to a first-and-goal before the Zachary defense stopped four consecutive running plays.
Scott then directed a nine-play, 99-yard drive as Zachary took a 6-0 lead. Scott ran for 53 yards on the drive, which was capped by Terry Sullivan’s 2-yard run.
Early in the second, Zachary had a chance to extend its lead, but Scott was intercepted on fourth-and-1 at the PHS 3. From there, Parkway used 12 plays to drive for the go-ahead score. Robert McKnight’s 1-yard run gave the Panthers a 7-6 lead.