Parkway finally revved its offensive engine after a slow start Saturday in the Class 5A state championship game, but an early deficit was too much to overcome.
Acadiana broke the single-game rushing record and scoring record en route to a 77-41 win against No. 2 Parkway to wrap up the nine-championship event in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The No. 1 Rams (14-1) pounded the ball with 634 yards on 63 carries — more than 10 yards per attempt against Parkway (13-1)
“You can’t blame the whole game on the start … but our guys battled the whole night, and we made it entertaining there for a little while,” said Parkway coach David Feaster. “We had to adjust to the veer dive, but their offensive line goes flat back every play and come off the ball so well.
“We dropped the ball and made some uncharacteristic penalties early.”
The Rams scored the first 21 points and never trailed, although a furious Panther comeback provided plenty of excitement.
Running back Elijah Leday scored twice on runs of 41 and 51 yards with an Edward Cormier 11-yard run sandwiched in between for a 21-0 lead.
Cormier, voted Acadiana’s most outstanding player, ran for 175 yards and four touchdowns. He was one of four Rams’ backs that gained at least 140 yards (quarterback De’Edward Cormier had 142 and two scores, Donovan Soloman had 163 yards and three scores while Leday gained 163 yard and two touchdowns).
Parkway junior running back William McKnight was voted the Panthers most outstanding player with 87 rushing yards and 110 receiving yards with four total touchdowns.
He caught a 63-yard pass from quarterback Brandon Harris to cut Acadiana’s lead to 21-7 and returned a kickoff 93 yards to trim the Rams’ lead to 35-13.
“I wanted to play hard for these seniors and for my team,” McKnight said of the 35-member senior class. “We wanted to do it for the seniors.”
Acadiana stretched a 42-13 halftime lead to 49-13 with an Edward Cormier 4-yard plunge, but that’s when Parkway made things interesting.
The Panthers rattled off three straight touchdowns — two by McKnight and a 30-yard Brodrick Jefferson catch from Harris — to trail 49-35 with 2:43 left in the third quarter.
The comeback was also spurred by two onside kicks from Avery Shoebridge. Parkway almost recovered a third that could have put more pressure on Acadiana.
“We came out with the same plan, we just knew we had to play better,” Harris said. “Coach gave us a great speech, and we had to keep playing hard.
“This has always been a great program, and it was nice to be part of this step. To be the first ones to get the Superdome is part of it.”
Acadiana coach Ted Davidson called the championship win, his third in five title games since 2005, a “crazy one.”
“(Parkway) can score in a hurry, and the two onside kicks had our defense gassed,” Davidson said. “We got the next onside kick and then the interception after that.
“Brandon Harris is a great competitor and a great player.”
Harris set a Class 5A record with 35 passing yards on 13-of-27 passing with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Acadiana’s Javonis Isaac, who caused Harris’ fumble in the first half, intercepted a screen pass that ended Parkway’s comeback hopes.
The Rams scored four of the last five touchdowns to race away with the 5A title.
But Feaster said the championship loss doesn’t tarnish what the Panthers accomplished this season.
Parkway had never advanced past the quarterfinals before this season, but the Panthers achieved the program’s first perfect regular season, first semifinals and championship game appearances and broke the program record with 13 wins.
“I told these guys that winning a state title wasn’t going to change their lives and losing one won’t,” Feaster said. “We can look at the history of this season … and it’s been a tremendous year.”
Byrd and Parkway made the Shreveport-Bossier City’s first public school appearances since Fair Park in 1974, but the area is still looking for its first public school championship since Captain Shreve won the 1973 title.
A total of 58,116 attended the three-day, nine-championship event.