CANTON – Michael Parrott softened up the defense and fellow senior Trey Morgan was much obliged Thursday night at Pisgah Memorial Stadium.
Morgan hauled in eight catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns, extended drives, and by the end of the night was drawing pass-interference calls sheerly out of frustration, it appeared.
It all had a cumulative effect in front of a live TV audience.
Sophomore quarterback Tanner Wike was steady with 128 yards, and as a team, Pisgah made all the big and little plays necessary to beat visiting Asheville High, 17-14.
“We want to continue taking steps as a football team,” Black Bears coach Brett Chappell said.
“Tonight was another step, and I’ll be real honest I didn’t know if we were ready for it. But our kids stood up. If I had one word to describe them, it would be ‘resilient.’ They bowed their necks and got after it.”
Asheville (1-2) and Pisgah (3-0) have only played one another a half-dozen times in the past 20 years, with Thursday representing the Black Bears’ first win in the series since 1997. They are off to their best start in Chappell’s four seasons and haven’t been 3-0 under any coach since 2010.
“It’s a great feeling. But we’re going to keep our heads in the right place,” Parrott said.
“The coaches told me we were going to pound the rock tonight, and I was excited about it. I love having that burden put on me.”
Parrott is a 5-foot-11, 235-pound fullback who has accepted a preferred walk-on spot at the University of Alabama. He carried the ball 24 times against the Cougars. Parrott didn’t always find a lot of running room – only three of his rushes were for 10 or more yards – but Parrott found enough. He is averaging 116 yards a game this season.
Morgan put his hands around a 13-yard touchdown pass from Wike with 1 minute, 24 seconds to go in the first half. And they hooked up for a second time in the fourth quarter with Wike snaring a 2-yard touchdown catch on fourth down. There was only 8:35 remaining in the game.
Tanner Fox’s 29-yard field goal attempt pinged off the crossbar at the 5:56 mark of the third quarter. But a roughing call on Asheville gave Fox another try, and the senior came through from 22 yards.
Pisgah’s second possession ended with a fumble at the Asheville goal-line. It didn’t come back to haunt the Haywood County team.
The Black Bears even gave the Cougars a dose of their own medicine by successfully executing a “sleeper” play in the second half. Chase Henson appeared to be checking out of the game. The junior instead lined up wide open along the Pisgah sideline and ran under a 39-yard pass from Wike.
The National Federation of State High School Associations banned what it calls hideout plays, in which “a substitute or an apparently-replaced player takes a position near the sideline to deceive opponents,” in 1942. The NCAA did the same in 1953. But teams have continued to bend the rules successfully at all age levels since then — the winning touchdown for Asheville in the 2005 NCHSAA 3-A championship game was scored on a sleeper play. Roberson reached a regional final in 2007 the same way.
Defensively, a Pisgah unit led this season by Tanner Lanning (9.5 a game), Jeff Albritton (8.0), Morgan (5.5), Houston Rogers (7.0) and Josh Wilson (4.5), held the Cougars to a season-low for scoring on Thursday. That stinginess included a goal-line stand on fourth down in the final quarter.
“You have to give (Pisgah) credit, their kids played hard and did a great job,” Asheville coach David Burdette said.
“We’re just making way too many mental mistakes. Part of that’s on me. You can’t keep making mental mistakes at a crucial time and expect to win. We can’t keep making that excuse.”
Cougars senior Devon Davidson passed for 121 yards and a touchdown to go along with a 2-yard quarterback keeper for a touchdown with 28 seconds to go in the game. Corey Clement made a 3-yard touchdown catch with just 2.6 seconds left in the first half.
Asheville travels to Southern Lee next week, while Pisgah has an open date.