PURVIS – Behind the legs of running back, JJ Parker Sumrall defeated rival Purvis 34-0.
The Bobcats have not turned its run game much this season, as they have averaged running the ball just 17 times per game and have even recorded a season-low of seven carries.
On the season, Parker had run the ball just 41 times for 215 yards and four touchdowns.
“The Battle for Highway 589 is always going to be fun,” Parker said. “It was a good shutout tonight. We played great and had fun tonight.
“We knew from watching the film what kind of defense they were running, and it was going to be big for the run game tonight. We came out together. We had chemistry during practice. It was just executed in the game.”
According to Sumrall coach Shannon White, Sumrall had planned to rely on the run game entering the matchup. Parker wasn’t fazed as he finished the night with a season-high of 22 carries for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
“They gave us a five-man box,” White said. “Anytime you are on offense, you want to call the best play based on where the defense is. The offensive line did a great job tonight, and the running backs ran hard. It was a good night for us.
“(Parker is) tough as nails. He’s a strong kid and has great vision. He breaks tackles. He’s a tough guy. Not a very big guy at all, but he can run inside well.”
Sumrall (5-1, 1-1) picked up momentum quickly after Purvis (1-5, 0-2) coughed up a fumble on the first snap of the game. Following a 10-yard run by Parker, quarterback John Ford broke out a 25-yard touchdown to give the Bobcats a 7-0 lead.
With two minutes left in the first quarter, Sumrall faced short field position and started its drive on Purvis’ 22-yard line. Parker capitalized and scored four plays later on a 10-yard touchdown run.
“We knew running the ball was going to be the key,” said Ford, who was 9-of-20 and threw for 93 yards and a touchdown. “We told JJ to prepare to have a big night. He came through with that in his role.
“He’s a downhill runner. He’s going to make plays when you need him to, but when we go to those nights where we have to throw the ball a lot, he puts his body out there. He sets up and makes blocks all night long.”
The Bobcats’ next drive resulted in a missed field goal, but an interception by Jordan Ware again gave Sumrall short field position on Purvis’ 15-yard line. Parker punched in the touchdown from 5-yards out and extended the score 21-0.
“He’s a very powerful kid,” Purvis coach Brad Hankins said. “He did a good job and has good vision. He made us miss a couple of times. We had some open shots on him, and (instead) he showed that he’s pretty good back there.”
By the end of the first half, Parker had rushed for 101 yards on 14 carries.
“It all started with o-line,” Parker said. “There was big holes, and they did their job. I hit the holes hard like I was supposed to. It was a team effort. I do whatever I’m supposed to do to help the team win.”
Before halftime, Sumrall struck again as the Bobcats drove 66-yards in 10 plays, which ended with Ford connecting with Tyler Daniels for a 9-yard touchdown. Sumrall’s last score of the game came in the final minute of the fourth quarter, with Greg Lamb scoring on a 34-yard run.
On the opposite side of the ball, Sumrall’s defense dominated Purvis. The Tornados were held to just 30 total yards of offense in the first half. By the end night, Purvis committed three turnovers and accumulated just over 100 yards of offense.
“It was a great game plan and great execution by our players,” White said. “It was a physical defense and fast defense. They have pretty much played that way all year. We have got a good defense for sure.”
Next week, Sumrall will return home to host Lawrence County while Purvis will travel to face Columbia.