Trying to outscore Parkway’s offense in a shootout where defense often looks optional continues to be a bad idea.
Lufkin became the latest victim of trying to keep up with players like quarterback Justin Rogers, wide receiver Terrace Marshall and Robert McKnight in a 69-54 win for the Panthers from Bossier City at Independence Stadium. Scoring records for a winning team and losing team at the Battle on the Border fell by the wayside and both teams broke the previous record for total offensive yards before Parkway lifted a trophy for the fourth straight year.
Coach David Feaster reminded everyone unless your defense can stop his elite athletes, it doesn’t really matter how big your offensive line is or how dynamic your athletes are. Quarterback Kordell Rodgers, a Texas State commit, completed 25 of 35 passes for 350 yards and three touchdowns while running for another two scores, but in the end it only meant more snaps for Parkway.
Waiting for that group to get tired and make a mistake will rarely be an effective strategy.
“I don’t think our defensive guys like it much,” Feaster said, noting his defense looked focused but just couldn’t match Lufkin’s size and athleticism. “I know our defensive coaches didn’t enjoy it, but we take it as a challenge. It’s awesome to be 2-0 and feel like, OK, now let’s go get better.”
He hardly seemed interested in talking about the defense after it gave up 612 total yards, including a Battle on the Border record 234 rushing yards to Kahlil Brown. The defensive coordinators will likely have nightmares about all the missed tackles, especially when it came to pass rushers breaking through the line and running past Rodgers.
Marshall had a similar effect on defenders when he caught the ball in the open field, often making them look like they were standing still. After a rare early drop on a sure touchdown, he caught six passes for four touchdowns and a Battle on the Border record 233 yards.
Rogers also completed passes to six other players to set his own record with 378 passing yards, plus another 31 on the ground. McKnight added 225 of Parkway’s 379 rushing yards, including a 46-yard touchdown when offensive lineman Dalton Meshell set his fellow senior free with a great block near the sideline.
Still, put too much attention on those three, and Parkway won’t hesitate to beat you with its other weapons. Chase Hill scored from 35 yards out on a brilliant misdirection run up the middle while Amani Larry ran for 40 yards on three carries and even completed his only pass when Rogers briefly left with an injury after a late hit.
If a shootout becomes unavoidable when facing Parkway, it’s important to remember last year’s season-opening 57-56 come-from-behind win that proved no deficit is ever large enough. But Lufkin made its biggest mistake when it took a lead after Parkway kicked the game’s only punt and then failed to score just one possession later.
Fittingly, the two biggest defensive successes for Feaster’s team came from a player he acknowledged might rather play wide receiver and score touchdowns. But coaches told Evangel transfer Johnathan Jones to move to the secondary, so he’s embraced the change and found a way to keep catching passes.
The first interception might have been the best catch of the night, as Jones tipped it up to himself and caught it lying down at his own 1-yard line. McKnight ran 99 yards up the middle on the next play, and Jones’ second interception on an overthrow proved to be the clincher with Parkway ahead 63-54.
Feaster and his staff called 81 plays to pick up 812 total yards and 29 first downs, converting 13 of 18 third downs along the way. It all seemed to work, including two quarterback sneaks for a combined 12 yards and a halfback pass from E.J. Williams to Marshall for a 46-yard touchdown, and everything in between.
Surely there’s nothing left in the playbook, right?
“Anything we could have possibly come up with, we had it loaded,” Feaster said. “But no, we didn’t spend it all. There’s some more.”
Future opponents would be ill-advised to call his bluff.