CLARKSTON - There would be no miracle comebacks this time around.
One week after rallying from a 27-14 deficit to defeat Roswell, the Parkview Panthers again found themselves trailing in the fourth quarter on Friday night. But this time it was against DeKalb power Stephenson, and this time the margin was just too big.
Parkview, behind the sensational Caleb King, scored 14 points in the final eight and a half minutes Friday night, but the talented and powerful Jaguars were able to hold on for a 20-14 quarterfinal victory at Hallford Stadium.
Stephenson, which rushed for 265 yards, advanced to the Class AAAAA semifinals in the Georgia Dome for the first time in school history, while Parkview finished its season with a 10-3 record.
"They're fast," Parkview head coach Cecil Flowe said of the Jaguars. "They're big and powerful and they're quick. They just got on us and got around the corner a few times ... and they just bleed you down like we can do most of the time."
When Marcus Ball, brother of Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball, scored his third touchdown of the night with 8:48 to go, Parkview found itself trailing 20-0 and the offense had yet to cross midfield against the vaunted Stephenson defense, which features six Division-I recruits.
That all changed in the blink of an eye.
After the ensuing kickoff, King took a handoff at his own 26 and darted through a hole and then burst past the Stephenson secondary for a 74-yard touchdown run with 8:25 left. Josh Veal's extra point cut the deficit to 20-7.
Parkview elected not to go for an onside kick, but Veal's pooch kickoff was returned back out to the 45 anyway, giving the Jaguars excellent field position.
Stephenson then ran 12 plays, and more importantly 6:03 off the game clock, before turning the ball over on downs.
The Panthers stormed back down the field after regaining possession, highlighted by a 42-yard run by King, and then scored on a 14-yard TD pass from Patrick Witt to King with 24 seconds remaining.
King ended the night with 201 yards rushing on 27 carries and scored both Parkview touchdowns. He finished his brilliant junior year with an unofficial total of 2,769 yards and 19 TDs.
But the junior wouldn't be able to get his hands on the ball again as Stephenson's Kelvin Sheppard recovered the ensuing onside kick to wrap up the win for the Jaguars and end Parkview's stirring comeback bid.
"I tried to put them on my shoulders again," King said. "We just couldn't come out on top."
Said Flowe: "Well, we're not going to quit, now. We're not going to quit. That's not in our blood. And I was proud of the kids for putting points on the board ... but we had to play perfectly. We knew that and we didn't do that. So that's ballgame."
For the first 27 minutes Friday night, it was all Ball for Stephenson.
Though he's a five-star recruit and considered one of the top linebackers in the country, it looked like the senior could be an All-American at a number of different positions against the Panthers.
He averaged 44.3 yards per punt, including a 53-yarder that was downed at the Parkview 1. He also rushed nine times for 113 yards and three scores, including a backbreaking 39-yard scoring run on a fake punt with 44 seconds left in the first half.
"That was gutsy on his part," Flowe said of Stephenson head coach Ron Gartrell's play call. "He had nothing to lose."
Ball scored his first touchdown of the night to cap a short 27-yard drive that began after Aaron Thomas intercepted Witt and returned it into Parkview territory.
It was one of three Parkview turnovers on the night.
"You've got to play perfect against a good team," Flowe said. "If you don't, you don't win."