Fourth quarter: players on both Parkview and Kickapoo are mentally and physically fatigued. Leg cramps are starting to set in on the players as sweat stains their jerseys. With just over a minute remaining in the game, sophomore Tayler Middlebrooks steps up for the potential game-winning field goal. Nervous, yet confident, Middlebrooks nails the 27-yard field goal to give Parkview the lead, 17-15.
"I had a bunch of friends telling me it’s just another kick and that I got this and I did,” Middlebrooks said. “It almost gave me a heart attack because it was so suspenseful.”
The drive that led to the game-winning field goal was 15 plays long, highlighted by the plays of senior quarterback Landon Ruff and senior running back Cole Jenkins.
“We believed we could win and if we put together just one sold drive we could give the ball to Tayler and he would make the kick,” Jenkins said.
Throughout the night, Jenkins and Ruff were poised and consistent for the Vikings. Jenkins finished the night with over 100 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to go along with a 15-yard completion he threw to sophomore Hunter Steinmetz. Ruff also eclipsed the 100-yrd mark with the combination of his arm and legs.
His football IQ and ability to control the game tempo were just as much a factor as his physical attributes though.
“Landon Ruff is an extremely smart guy and that is why he is our quarterback. He is great at managing the clock, getting players in the correct places, and winning us games,” Parkview head coach Anthony Hays said.
Parkview’s running game was steady and patient for the entire ball game. Running the football is the cornerstone of the team’s offense, and they showed that from the first snap, till the scoreboard showed all zeros.
“I was pleased with the poise Cole showed,” Hays said. “I told him to be patient and just keep working and he did and it paid off.”
Beating Kickapoo was no easy task for Parkview though. With their backs against the wall after Middlebrooks’ field goal, Kickapoo decided to make the final minute of the game an exciting one.
Sophomore Tony Grant returned the ensuing kickoff to the Parkview 44-yard line to start the drive. After two completions, a sack, and a run by sophomore quarterback Anthony Cooper, Kickapoo had a shot to win the game.
With just 5.7 seconds remaining in the game, Chiefs senior Turner Adams jogged onto the field to attempt the potential game-winning 43-yard field goal. Parkview attempted to ice Adams with a timeout, and it worked. After a clean snap and clean hold, Adams attempted the kick. The kick looked good and had the distance, but drifted just right at the last moment, missing the inside of the uprights by inches. The kick was so close no player or coach on the Parkview sideline immediately started celebrating because they couldn’t tell if he made the kick or not.
“I honestly thought he made it at first but when I saw the ref signal no good I knew we had just won the game,” Jenkins said.
In the beginning of the game however, it was the Chiefs who got out to the early lead.
After both teams went scoreless in the first quarter, sophomore running back Tony Grant got Kickapoo on the board with a 4-yard touchdown run.
However, Jenkins matched Grant’s touchdown run with one of his own later in the quarter from five yards out to tie the ball game.
Cooper was picked off on the ensuing possession. Jenkins needed just one run to capitalize off of the mishap. From 27 yards out, he went off left tackle for the touchdown, giving Parkview its first lead of the game, 14-7.
Facing adversity, Kickapoo rose to the occasion of playing under the bright lights of JFK Stadium. Eleven plays after Parkview took the lead, Grant pushed his way into the end zone for a touchdown, as well as for a 2-point conversion. At the half, Kickapoo led Parkview 15-14.
“We continued to respond positively throughout adversity which we faced all game,” Hays said.
Coming out of the locker room, both defenses forced the opposing offenses to head to the sideline with no additions to the scoreboard.
Tony Grant had a chance for his third touchdown of the game in the third quarter, but fumbled the ball at the 2 yard-line where the Vikings recovered it. Kickapoo had another opportunity in the red zone during the third quarter. After getting down to the 8 yard line, Kickapoo committed two penalties and had a botched snap which forced a turnover on downs.
“We’ve got momentum now. I’ve never seen these guys as excited and happy as they are right now in that locker room,” Hays said.
The Chiefs certainly had their opportunities, but could only capitalize on two of their four trips to the red zone.
Unlike Kickapoo, which couldn’t score in the red zone, Parkview did. Parkview scoring once they got in Chief territory proved to be the difference in the game.
“It feels so good to be 1-0 and now we got to bring it next week. It is extra nice though to beat Kickapoo,” Jenkins said.
Kickapoo will host Rolla in their home opener next Friday, while Parkview will play Joplin.
Kickapoo-Tony Grant 4-yard run (Adams PAT)
Parkview- Cole Jenkins 5-yard run (Middlebrooks PAT)
Parkview- Cole Jenkins 27-yard run (Middlebrooks PAT)
Kickapoo- Tony Grant 4-yard run (Grant two point conversion)
Parkview- Tayler Middlebrooks 27-yard field goal
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