UNIONVILLE — Parkwood High’s football team got its first win of the season on Friday, winning 22-21 on the road against Union County rival Piedmont.
The difference in Friday’s game came down to the special teams play of the Wolf Pack (1-1 record), who came up with play after play with their backs against the wall.
“It was really a tough situation trying to keep the kids upbeat and having to deal with COVID and contact tracing and all of that stuff,” said Parkwood head coach Terry Gittens. “But once we got back, we talked about meeting adversity head on, which is a major part of adversity, and the kids adapted to it, bought in and worked hard for the two weeks prior to the game. And it showed in the result. Our kids worked till the bitter end.”
Missing games the past three weeks because of positive COVID-19 tests inside the program, the Wolf Pack were ready for the opening kickoff Friday night, and it showed.
After receiving the ball on the right side of the field, Wisdom Holmes ran to his left and flipped the ball behind him to receiver Isaiah Mobley, who streaked down the right sideline for a kickoff return touchdown to open the scoring.
Mobley, a junior receiver who has reports a Division 1 offer from Charlotte, finished the game with six catches for 79 yards and the return touchdown.
“Our special teams coordinator does a tremendous job evaluating film, and he tries to find things that will put us in a great position,” Gittens said. “We worked on it for a couple of weeks and then we finally got the chance to see if it would work (in a game) based on the kickoff coverage Piedmont runs. It ended up being successful for us, and Isaiah did a great job and Wisdom did well getting him the ball. That’s the most difficult part, the hand-off, because you don’t want anyone fumbling the ball. We trusted them with it, and it ended up being successful.”
Parkwood built a 20-7 halftime lead Friday thanks in part to a 37-yard touchdown run by Holmes and a 20-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Cam Enos to senior receiver Jack Williams, but Piedmont (2-3) wasn’t deterred by the first-half scoreline.
After a good return on the opening kickoff of the third quarter, the Panthers scored on a two-yard run by senior Evan Sawyer. Piedmont recovered a Parkwood fumble on the ensuing kickoff and eventually took a 21-20 lead with 4:24 left in the third quarter on a short touchdown pass from quarterback Chase Fesmire to Justin Smith.
Piedmont did most of its damage on the ground. Junior Layton Duke carried the ball 35 times for a career-high 230 yards and a touchdown Friday night. Duke currently leads all Union County players with 571 rushing yards this season.
Early in the fourth quarter, Parkwood made the play that ended up deciding the game. With Piedmont backed up deep in its own territory, Parkwood senior defensive lineman Kamran Adams broke loose and blocked a punt, which sailed out of the end zone for a safety that gave Parkwood the lead at 22-21.
“Kam Adams is a tremendous athlete,” Gittens said. “Coming off the edge, we were trying to find a way to be successful and change the tide, and we were able to get him in the right position at the right time to complete the task. That was the turning point of the game.”
Piedmont had a chance to win the game late, driving the ball down to Parkwood’s 14-yard line with three seconds left. The game-winning field goal attempt was missed, however, allowing the Wolf Pack to hold on.
Parkwood hosts Buford High (S.C.) on Friday night. The Wolf Pack open Rocky River Conference play Oct. 1 vs. Forest Hills.
Piedmont, meanwhile, has a week off before opening Southern Carolina Conference play Oct. 1 on the road at Weddington.
Parkwood 22, Piedmont 21
Parkwood%5E13%5E7%5E0%5E2 — 22
Piedmont%5E7%5E0%5E14%5E0 — 21
PW — Isaiah Mobley 90 kick return touchdown (Pass no good)
PW — Wisdom Holmes 37 run (Connor Benito kick)
PM — Layton Duke 3 run (Gavin Hoyle kick)
PW — Jack Williams 20 pass from Cam Enos (Benito kick)
PM — Evan Sawyer 2 run (Hoyle kick)
PM — Justin Smith 6 pass from Chase Fesmire (Hoyle kick)
PW — Kamran Adams blocked punt out of end zone for SAFETY
Passing: PW — Cam Enos 10-19-2 148; PM — Chase Fesmire 6-9-1 19
Rushing: PW — Wisdom Holmes 8-103, Jaylin Meaders 7-39, Eric Faraci 2-14, Enos 2-5; PM — Layton Duke 35-230, Fesmire 9-12, Evan Sawyer 7-52
Receiving: PW — Isaiah Mobley 6-79, Jack Williams 1-20, Quinn Mushington 1-15, Aiden Enriquez 1-6; PM — Devine Stevenson 2-20, Justin Smith 2-(-1), Duke 2-0