Jake Parker’s had a lot of big runs in his career.
But perhaps none have been bigger than a 53-yard gallop through the heart of the Fayetteville defense in the fourth quarter Friday night.
The run, which came immediately after a crucial Meadow Bridge stop that ended with a sack of Pirate quarterback Will Fenton by Parker and Dillon Pomeroy, gave the co-Class A No. 8 Meadow Bridge Wildcats (4-0) the impetus for a 26-14 triumph over co-No. 18 Fayetteville at Frank Arritt Stadium.
His score handed the hosts a 12-point lead with 6:39 to go, and the Pirates — who had battled back from a two-touchdown deficit to pull to within 20-14 on a 21-yard TD by Tasheem Saunders — couldn’t recover down the stretch.
“That run was important,” said Parker, who amassed 327 yards and three scores on the evening. “It’s probably my top one, actually.
“It basically sealed the deal for our fourth straight win over Fayetteville (fifth counting middle school, he pointed out).”
The last time the Pirates got the better of the Wildcats was a 49-12 verdict in 2009. Meadow Bridge had posted triumphs of 46-41, 33-31 and 8-6 in the intervening period.
“We’re big old rivals,” said Parker, who left the game late with what he said was a slight sprain of his ankle. “It’s always good to win against them.
“Coach didn’t have to say anything this week (for motivation).”
“We didn’t lay a hand on him,” Fayetteville coach Frank Spangler lamented about the last Parker score. “We didn’t cover our gaps well.
“Down two touchdowns like that and trying to come back is tough to do.”
While the Pirates got their offense in gear somewhat during the second half, it was the first half that proved to be their undoing.
Parker reached the end zone on two long bursts (71 and 94 yards), and Ryan Church found Craig Peters on an 18-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone — all sandwiched around a 28-yard Fayetteville scoring pass from Fenton to Jake Alton — to leave the Wildcats with a 20-8 lead after one period.
On Parker’s longest run, he seemed to be hemmed in by the Pirates but maintained his balance while nearly hitting the ground before righting himself and sprinting down the home sideline to paydirt.
“We didn’t rise to the occasion in the first quarter,” Spangler said. “We made a couple of mistakes, and they capitalized.
“Mistakes are killing us.”
Meadow Bridge coach Larry McClintic said his team at times has come out in the second half in “lackadaisical” fashion. “We’ve had a little bit of a problem with that,” he said. “But Fayetteville’s a good football team and they run a good offense. We normally don’t see that much misdirection.
“Our kids — when we got to the ball — we hit well tonight. Our defense — at times — picked it up.”
“It’s big,” he said of the win. “Our seniors haven’t lost to them.
“These kids are getting a little more mature. Next week, though, we get on the bus (and make a long trip to seek win No. 5 against Pendleton County).”
Harless led the Meadow Bridge defense with 11 tackles, and three Wildcats — Peters and Church with interceptions and Parker with a fumble recovery — had takeaways.
Alton had a touchdown-saving interception for Fayetteville late in the first half.
Saunders collected 116 yards and a score on 16 carries for the Pirate offense.
Fayetteville (2-2) entertains another Fayette County foe, Valley, next Friday, while Meadow Bridge travels to play Pendleton County the same night.
F (2-2) 8 0 6 0 — 14
MB (4-0) 20 0 0 6 — 26
MB: Jake Parker 71 run (Parker rush)
F: Jacob Alton 28 pass from Will Fenton (William Clark pass from Fenton)
MB: Craig Peters 18 pass from Ryan Church (rush failed)
MB: Parker 94 run (pass failed)
F: Tasheem Saunders 21 run (rush failed)
MB: Parker 53 run (rush failed)
RUSHING — F: Saunders 16-116, Alton 7-49, Austin Simmons 4-22, Cameron Underwood 7-9. MB: Parker 34-327, Craig Peters 3-31, Ryan Church 3-21, Shane Harless 4-5.
PASSING — F: Fenton 9-18-2-64. MB: Church 1-2-1-18.
RECEIVING — F: Alton 2-34, James Criss 1-21, Dalton Dempsey 1-6, Saunders 1-1, Clark 4-0. MB: Peters 1-18.
TAKEAWAYS — F: Alton (int). MB: Church (int), Peters (int), Parker (fum rec).
Shane Harless 11 tackles