BY MATT VINES/Journal Sports
BOSSIER CITY – Natchitoches Central outdueled Parkway for three quarters, but the Panthers dominated the fourth quarter en route to a 37-22 win Friday at Preston-Crownover Stadium.
The Chiefs (3-5, 2-3 District 1-5A) got the early edge thanks to two recovered kickoffs off the foot of Mateo Restrepo, but the Panthers scored three straight touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take over.
Parkway (7-1, 4-1 District 1-5A) got a big boost from speedster running back Jaylan White, who produced the go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter and supplied four touchdowns overall. He finished with 250 rushing yards on 19 touches.
The Chiefs (3-5, 2-3 District 1-5A) took their last lead of the game late in the third quarter when quarterback Brian Young took off on a 60-yard touchdown sprint to hand the Chiefs a 16-15 edge after the extra point, which hasn’t been a given this season for NCHS with Restrepo missing most of the season.
But the Panthers scored three straight touchdowns starting with White’s 53-yard scamper to take control of the game at 23-16 and bounce back from a loss last week to Byrd.
“We played well for three quarters , but Parkway made the plays in the fourth quarter and we didn’t,” said NCHS coach James Wilkerson. “Our defense was disciplined and tackled well, but Parkway got into some different formations and we didn’t tackle well. Our special teams has improved over the last few weeks, and it was big for us early.”
Parkway salted away the game with a defensive touchdown when Greg Chitman scooped a Young fumble caused by Ray Mayweather and returned it for a score to increase the advantage to 30-16 advantage.
White added his final score for good measure to put the game out of reach at 37-16.
“Jaylan took over the game, and he and (quarterback) Ashton Martin ran the ball great,” said Parkway coach Coy Brotherton. “Jaylan had four touchdowns, but he had another two called back.
“We just had to settle in and play after not having the ball much in the first half.”
After Parkway’s White started the scoring on the Panthers first possession, the Chiefs cashed in one of their two recovered kickoffs for a score. Those kickoffs, which helped limit Parkway to just two offensive possessions in the first half, weren’t onside kicks but more like squib kicks.
NCHS turned one of those recovered kickoffs into a Camryn Davis receiving touchdown from Young on a fourth-down conversion to grab a 9-7 lead late in the second quarter. Davis added another receiving touchdown late from sophomore quarterback Lannon Collum for a two-score effort.
The Panthers surged back in front with a White scoring run, but the Chiefs had the answer with Young’s 60-yard touchdown run up the middle, snatching a 16-15 lead late in the third quarter.
But Parkway was too much in the fourth quarter with their three straight touchdowns, and the Panthers got back in the win column after having their six-game win streak snapped.
The Chiefs finish the season at Haughton and at home against Byrd, while Parkway catches Airline in Benton to close out the regular season.
PHOTO: Kevin Shannahan