Paris traveled to Cedarville Friday night with their playoff hopes on the line. With the AAA taking five from the conference this year, they must win one of their final two games to become eligible.
The Eagles did just that in getting a 42-20 win.
Early on, the Eagles and Pirates both struggled, turning the ball over near midfield and neither getting much momentum. Finally, Paris put together a drive, and DaKovan Wise took it in from 14 yards out for the only score in the opening quarter.
In the second period, quarterback Kris Graham weaved through the line, and once he hit the edge, there was no catching him as he scampered 59 yards for the score. On the PAT, Cedarville jumped offsides, so Paris changed plans and went for two with the shorter field and converted. Cedarville put up a touchdown of their own, but the conversion failed and Paris led 15-6 at the half.
Starting the third period, Paris knew they needed to find some momentum. With the junior high season now complete, select freshman were promoted to the squad and contributed immediately and provided a spark on both sides of the ball. Defensively, Adam Chandler, a sizable defensive lineman, was making tackles, including two on a key drive, halting the Cedarville attack. On offense, Jimmy Dikeman came in at center and led the Eagle offensive line charge, showing few signs of his youth. His first snap was on a PAT subbing in after an injury on a Wise touchdown run. With the good snap and hold, Paris took a 22-6 lead.
Wise would strike again in the third period with a score, the PAT was blocked, but Paris would still lead 28-12 after three periods.
Cedarville broke a 19-yard run and made it a one-score game at 28-10 early in the fourth. Needing a score to put the pressure back on the Pirates, Paris went to a tackle eligible play, with the offside tackle lining up in the bunch formation with the receivers and the fullback filling his position on the line. This allows for multiple options, and Cedarville left the tackle uncovered. Travis Bryant hauled in the Graham pass in the middle of the field and ran in untouched from 36 yards out. It was a great read from Graham, finding the open man lost in the chaos of the play.
With the Pirates now needing two scores, Paris was putting the heat on. When they flushed the Cedarville quarterback out of the pocket, a batted ball was plucked out of the air and defensive end Luke Trusty took it to the house for a 55-yard touchdown and sealed the win.
Matthew Ezell had 19 tackles in the win, and though Wise had three scores, it was Graham who led the rushing attack with 124 yards as the Pirates keyed on Wise all evening. The 56 that Wise added put him over the 1,000 yard mark for the season.
Paris looks to build on the 42-20 win as they host Lamar in the final game, hoping to improve their playoff seeding. Kickoff at Eagles Stadium is at 7 p.m.