Pioneers clip Fred T. Foard 28-27
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
NEWTON — Fate, and the Watauga football coaching staff, chose Alex Parsons Friday night.
Parsons, one of two Watauga place kickers, was trading kicks with fellow Pioneer Steven Shirley in Watauga’s Northwestern Conference game with Fred T. Foard Friday night. Facing a game-deciding field goal, it was Parsons’ turn to kick.
“Actually, they’re both kicking the ball so well right now that they’re taking turns, and it was Alex’s turn,” Pioneers coach Tom Wright said. “We’ve got full confidence in both of them, so we’re giving both the opportunity to kick.”
Parsons made the most of his turn by sending a 39-yard dagger through the goalposts and into the hearts of the Foard players, and the homecoming crowd who jammed the home side of Tigers’ stadium. Parsons’ kick provided Watauga a 28-27 victory in a fourth quarter that had both teams combined to score 30 points and four lead changes.
The kick capped a remarkable week for Parsons, who played a big role in Watauga’s soccer team’s victories over No. 7 Foard on Monday and No. 4 Hickory two days later. Parsons scored two goals, including the final goal, in a dramatic 3-1 win over Hickory.
“It’s a great way to end the week,” Parsons said. “All of them were great games and the football game and how it went was awesome.”
The teams also rolled up 720 yards in total offense, 317 of them in the fourth quarter. Watauga (4-1, 1-0 NWC) finished with 308 yards in total offense, while Foard (2-3, 0-1) had 412 in total offense, 330 of them on the ground.
“It was a crazy fourth quarter,” Wright said. “We thought we had it won. We were behind then we came back and got the lead again and then we were behind and we came back and got the lead at the very end. It was just a crazy ballgame.”
The Tigers (2-3), which two years ago endured an 0-11 season, looked like they took the lead for good when quarterback Jason Schmidt found Brenden Purkey for a 41-yard touchdown pass with 37 seconds left in the game.
The touchdown, Foard’s third of the fourth quarter, gave the Tigers a 27-25 lead.
Things started to unravel almost immediately for the Tigers. Rebecca Crawley’s extra point attempt was blocked, which gave the Pioneers a chance to win the game, instead of tying it, with a field goal.
Watauga also benefitted from a Foard mistake when a Tiger was called for interference on a kick on Crawley’s ensuing pooch kickoff. That left the Pioneers with a first down at their own 42-yard line and just two seconds ticked off the clock.
Pioneers quarterback Tripp Taylor took it from there. Taylor broke off a 16-yard run on the Pioneers’ first play, giving them a first down at the Foard 42. An injured Foard player gave the Pioneers a free timeout, which allowed them a chance to huddle on the sideline and prepare for the rest of the drive.
A 9-yard Taylor pass to Cameron Baker followed by an 11-yard pass to Sub Steury gave the Pioneers a first down at the Foard 22. Taylor completed 12-of-22 passes for 175 yards and two interceptions.
“I honestly wasn’t going to think about it,” Taylor said of the last drive. “I was just going to go through that drive
“We were just basically playing a prevent defense,” Foard coach Jason Phelps said. “There was under a minute left and we were thinking that the worst-case scenario was that they would kick a field goal. We didn’t want to have anything behind us.”
With 6.4 seconds left, Parsons calmly belted his field goal, but that did not come without controversy. The Foard coaching staff tried to call timeout to ice Parsons.
The staff looked like it made the call before the snap of the ball, but the play went on.
“What we were trying to do at the end there was a typical icing of the kicker,” Phelps said. “Unfortunately we didn’t get the call, but he still made the kick and he’s a great kicker. I give credit to Watauga. We fought hard, but they fought harder.”
Parsons made his kick, the officials huddled afterward, and ruled that although Foard had a timeout, the game was over.
The entire second half was a sharp contrast to the first, when just one touchdown — a T.J. Poulos 1-yard run — gave the Pioneers an 8-0 lead. Poulos, who became Watauga’s first 100-yard rusher of the season by gaining 118 yards on 26 carries, added a 31-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to put the Pioneers in front 15-0. A Shirley 38-yard field goal gave the Pioneers a seemingly 18-0 lead.
Foard’s triple-option offense didn’t panic. Fullback Sam Benfield scored back-to-back touchdown runs of 63 and 55 yards to pull the Tigers to 18-15. Schmidt added a 37-yard touchdown run, breaking three tackles in the process, and gave the Tigers a 21-18 lead.
Poulos scored his third touchdown of the game, a 1-yard run, which put Watauga back in front 25-21 with 1:15 left. Poulos capped a five play, 54-yard drive that looked like it would be enough to preserve the win.
Two Schmidt pass plays, the final being the 41-yarder to Purkey, put the Tigers back in front 27-25.
Watauga 28, Fred T. Foard 27
Watauga 0 8 10 10 — 28
Fred T. Foard 0 0 7 20 — 27
WHS—Poulos 1 run (Williams pass from Mackey)
WHS—Poulos 31 (Parsons kick)
WHS—Shirley FG 38
FTF—Benfield 63 run (Crawley kick)
FTF—Benfield 55 run (Schmidt run)
FTF—Schmidt 37 run (Pass failed)
WHS—Poulos 1 run (Parsons kick)
FTF—Purkey 41 pass from Schmidt (Kick blocked)
WHS—Parsons FG 39
First downs 16 14
By rushing 6 10
By passing 8 3
By penalty 2 1
Rushes-yards 38-133 39-330
Avg. rush 3.5 8.5
Yds. gained 155 346
Yds. lost 22 16
Passing yards 175 82
Passes 12-22-2 5-12-1
Avg. per att. 8.0 6.8
Avg. per comp 14.6 16.4
Sacked by-yds. 0-0 1-8
Total plays-yards 60-308 51-412
Penalties-yards 7-79 12-121
Punts-avg. 2-45.5 3-17.7
Net avg. 45.5 12.3
Inside 20 0 0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-0
Third down conv. 2-11 5-11
Fourth down conv. 3-6 1-2
Time of poss. 24:31 23:29
Rushing: Poulos 26-118, Taylor 7-11, Williams 5-4.
Passing: Taylor 12-22 2.
Receiving: Baker 5-62, Steury 4-65, Mackey 2-44, Williams 1-4.
Fred T. Foard individuals
Rushing: Benfield 18-192, Thompson 5-60, Schmidt 10-60, Snook 4-13, Hudson 2-5.
Passing: Schmidt 5-10-1 82, TEAM 0-2-0 0.
Receiving: Thompson 2-25, Purkey 1-41, Snook 1-12, Benfield 1-4.