Parkway survives Minden slugfest, 43-41

If anyone had predicted 84 total points in the Minden Crimson Tide–Parkway Panthers opening game of the 2023 football season, somebody might have been on the receiving end of more than a few raised eyebrows.

After a nearly three-hour slugfest at W.W. Williams Stadium Friday night, Parkway managed to hang on for a 43-41 win that saw big plays, momentum swings and multiple lead changes in a game that wasn’t decided until  the clock struck zeroes.

Key to Parkway’s win was a grinding ground game led by sophomore Antonio Gladney who gained 272 yards on 22 carries with four touchdowns, followed by junior Cj Dudley’s 154 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Gladney and Dudley ran to daylight through holes opened by a huge Panthers’ offensive line.

Despite a size and numbers disadvantage, the Tide stayed in the game on the strength of performances from senior all-purpose performer Jakobe Jackson, sophomore quarterback Hudson Brown and a defense that came up with big plays at the right time.

Jackson, last year’s Tide starting quarterback, scored four touchdowns in the game. Two came on runs of two and 44 yards while the other pair came on pass receptions from Brown covering 51 and 16 yards. Jackson

Jackson finished the night with 257 total yards; 176 on 14 rushes and 81 from five pass receptions. Brown, starting his first game and sharing time under center with Jackson, had 14 completions in 30 attempts for 169 yards plus the two TDs.

Other Tide contributors were Cameron Mitchell, five carries for 18 yards and a touchdown plus six pass receptions worth 62 yards, Dunovan Robinson with 11 carries for 35 yards and a score, Maurice Rabb had four receptions for 35 yards and Porter Neal rushed one time for 20 yards.

Minden claimed the lead at 6-0 on the opening drive when Robinson capped an 80-yard drive with a two-yard run.  From there, Parkway scored 16 unanswered points, including a 30-yard field goal by LSU signee Aeron Burrell. 

On the final play of the first quarter, the Tide pulled to 16-12 when Jackson spun into the endzone from two yards out, only to see Parkway come back on a Gladney eight-yard dash to go up 23-12.

Minden fought back from that deficit to take a lead on two consecutive scores. After a Parkway pass completion, Tider Brennan Benton fell on a fumble at the Minden 49. Brown immediately hit Jackson with a scoring toss and a two-point conversion cut the lead to 23-20.

Parkway fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Tide recovered at the Panthers’ 37. Another Brown to Jackson toss capped four-play trip to paydirt, putting Minden ahead 27-23 with 5:50 left before half.

A Parkway score just before intermission swapped leaders again (30-27), and the Tide returned the favor on Jackson’s 44-yard run in the third quarter. But Minden’s 34-30 lead was short-lived when Gladney broke loose for 73 yards on the first play following the kickoff. 

Trailing 37-34, the Tide set sail on an 85-yard march, capped by Mitchell’s 10-yard burst to again go ahead by four. But Dudley pounded four yards up the middle to cap a 69-yard, seven-play drive for the 43-41 final. 

Parkway iced the game with an eight-minute drive following a Tide punt, running out the clock by taking knees at Minden’s four-yard line after Dudley’s four-yard run earned a first down with just 1:31 remaining.

Minden will seek to get on the winning track next Friday, going on the road to take on the Homer Pelicans.