After all, the defending 1A state champs just avenged their only loss from last year and are again ranked No. 1 in the state.
The Raiders left with what they came for — a 38-12 victory — but it was not the easy game most had predicted.
From the beginning, the Parrish defense played with a lot of heart. That heart - coupled with a heavy dose of Jermichael Harris on the offensive side — kept the Tornados alive until less than a minute remained in the third quarter.
The Raiders didn’t make it easy on Parrish either, taking the opening kickoff on a 15-play, 63-yard drive, before having Jermichael Harris and company make a huge tackle on fourth down. Parrish took advantage of the turnover on downs with a huge run on a sweep to Harris for a gain of 18 yards on their first offensive play from scrimmage. Unfortunately for the Tornadoes, Bryant Thomas fumbled the very next snap and Marvin Thomas recovered for the Raiders.
Championship-caliber teams know how to take advantage of such an opportunity. On the next play from scrimmage, quarterback Sean Wallace found Dorryl Swannigan for a 38-yard touchdown. Benjamin Riggs added the extra point to give Marion County a 7-0 lead.
Parrish was unable to answer on the following drive, being forced to punt by the Raiders after five plays netted only ten yards. But the defense came up huge again, forcing another turnover deep in their own territory. Reginald Harris recovered a fumble at their own 17, giving Parrish new life as the second quarter was beginning.
Once again, the Parrish offense was unable to get past the wall erected by the Marion County defense. Holding the ball longer this time — eight plays for 39 yards — the Tornadoes again failed to produce any points.
Wallace broke through again on the following drive, pounding the Tornadoes for a 32-yard touchdown run to cap off a six-play, 85-yard drive. Another Riggs extra point and the Raiders had a solid 14-0 lead.
Parrish may have been down, but they were far from out. With their backs against the wall against the best team in the state, the Tornadoes marched 73 yards to give themselves a chance to cut the lead to seven before halftime. Reginald Harris would provide the score on a 23-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds left in the second quarter, but the extra point was blocked by Cullen Reece making the score 14-6 at the break.
The second half started with a quick three and out from Parrish followed by a dominant 55-yard touchdown drive from Marion County. Most people again counted the Tornadoes out, but they had not given up yet.
The next drive may have provided the highlight of Jermichael Harris’ night - a 55-yard touchdown run on which he broke no less than six tackles. The two-point conversion was no good, though, and Parrish still trailed 21-12.
It was all Marion County from then on, as their stable of backs ran wild on the Purple Tornados. Justin Sanderson led the Raiders with 17 carries and added 102 yards and a touchdown. Sean Wallace was 6 of 10 passing for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns while rushing for 119 yards and another score.
Parrish was led by Jermichael Harris’ 151 yards on 14 carries and one touchdown. Reginald Harris added 68 yards and a touchdown on 8 carries.
Broderick Sanders of Parrish led both teams with 8 tackles.