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Park View grinds out 34-22 win over Franklin on muggy evening

South Boston News
Park View running back Ra’Sean Coates uses a stiff arm to avoid being tackled by a Franklin Bronco. (Stephen Hinzman photo) / September 27, 2017
Park View relied on a powerful ground game to beat Franklin High School 34-22 in an error-prone, ragged affair for both teams played on a warm and humid Friday night in South Hill.

The Dragons improved to 3-1 with the victory over Tri-Rivers rival Franklin, coached by Darren Parker, who has family ties in the South Hill area. The win sets up Park View for a crucial game Friday with Greensville.

“There’s no let downs, we’ve got to stay on schedule, stay on the training, work hard and believe in ourselves and what we’re doing,” said coach Kelvin Hutcheson after the Franklin victory. “We’ve got a young group that are learning how to play varsity football and learning how to win.”

To the extent a team may learn from its mistakes, Friday night offered many lessons for the young Dragons. Overcoming turnovers, penalties and mental lapses, the Park View varsity squad prevailed by doing what it does best: running the ball.

German Neville, Jalen Brown, Ra’Sean Coates and Josh Boyd each ripped off nice chunks of yardage against the visiting Broncos at key moments in the game. The longest run was a 40-yard TD scamper by Neville that dashed Franklin’s early momentum and set up the Dragons to take a 22-16 lead at halftime, an advantage Park View would only briefly relinquish later on.

The game began with Park View fielding the kickoff and fumbling away the possession on the second play from scrimmage. Spotted favorable field position, Franklin quickly punched into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown, aided by a gift PV penalty on fourth down and short yardage. The two-point conversion was good, putting the Broncos ahead 8-0.

The Dragons rallied immediately, taking the kickoff to their own 30 yard line and marching smartly downfield. Highlights of the drive included an end-around run by Jalen Brown, good for 20 yards, and a facemask penalty by Franklin that gave the Dragon a first-and-goal at the six yard line. Neville took the next carry into the end zone, then followed the touchdown with a successful two-point conversion run. That made the score 8-8 with 5:08 left to play in the first quarter.

The game would swing back in Franklin’s favor on the ensuing kickoff. The Broncos’ return man fielded the kick and found a gap along the left sideline, taking the ball all the way to the house for a 14-8 lead. Park View’s mistakes continued as the Dragons were penalized on the extra point try for having too many players on the field. Given a second chance, Franklin converted for two points and went up 16-8.

With time left in the first quarter, Park View embarked on another drive that would result in a turnover. But first, it was the Broncos’ turn to offer up gifts to their opponent as a Franklin offsides penalty gave Park View a first down on a 4th-and-four. Moments later a 10-yard penalty resulted in another PV first down. With Park View moving into Broncos territory, Franklin committed two more penalties, both facemask calls against Neville, and Park View advanced as far as the Broncos 15.

From there, however, the Dragons had a touchdown run called back and then gave up possession on an interception when Boyd, the Park View QB, came under a heavy rush.

The long interception return by Franklin gave the offense a first down at the Park View 48. But after picking up a first down, the Broncos saw their chances slip away on a pass interception by Park View’s Kion Gilliam. Gilliam returned the INT to the Franklin 25, but a Dragon 10-yard penalty on the play pushed the ball back to the Park View 15.

Undeterred, PV got nice yardage on a scamper by Boyd down the right sideline for a first down, then a nine-yard pickup by Coates up the middle. Neville lined up under center for a QB keeper and another first down, then he took the ball on a sweep around the right side and found daylight for the 40-yard TD run.

After the two-point conversion came up short, Franklin still held a 16-14 lead. But Park View would score once more before the half to take the advantage.

The turning point came on Franklin’s next drive, which ended with the Broncos facing fourth and long in their own territory. Punting the ball, the kick went high in the air but barely forward, and Park View recovered with excellent field position at the Bronco 30. After an illegal blocking penalty wiped out a long run by PV, the Dragons pushed forward with two quarterback keeper plays, the second one by Neville for the touchdown. Neville ran the ball over right tackle for the two-point conversion, and with less than a minute to go in the half Park View was up 22-16. That score would hold up till halftime.

Starting the second half, Franklin took the kickoff out to their own 49. Mixing quick first-down plays with Park View penalties, Franklin advanced to the Dragon five yard line and scored on back-to-back running plays by Nicholas Porter. The action was then interrupted by a player going down with what appeared to be cramping on the hot, muggy night. That would soon become a recurring theme as Franklin tied up the game 22-22 after missing the conversion.

The Dragons responded with a nifty kickoff return by Jalen Brown out the PV 40. Park View relied on the ground game again, getting a 32-yard end-around gain by Brown to the Bronco one yard line. From there, Neville punched the ball in on a no-huddle keeper and Park View led 28-22. The conversion attempt was no good with 8:18 left in the third quarter.

Park View widened the lead after forcing a Franklin pass interception on the next possession. Taking over at their own 42, the Dragons continued to run the ball effectively, with Brown picking up a 20-yard gain and Coates setting up another first down on a seven-yard run. Neville got the TD again on a two-yard run, putting Park View up 34-22 with 4:11 to play in the third quarter.

By this point in the contest both teams were feeling the effects of the heat and humidity as the sidelines were busy with trainers and players trying to stave off cramping and dehydration. The remainder of the third quarter and the fourth quarter saw both teams battling it out with neither able to take advantage of the other. But the stalemate worked in the Dragons’ favor as their 34-22 lead held up at the end.

“Our kids continued to fight and it was a dogfight,” said Surry head coach Parker, whose cousin is a former coach for the PV Dragon basketball program. “We can’t make excuses, we lost. We just need to go back to the drawing board and get ready for Surry next week. We look forward to that contest.”

Park View now turns its attention to Greensville High School. “We’ve got to get ready for Greensville,” said Hutcheson. “I know they’ve been winning and we’re looking forward to seeing what they’ve been doing. I hear they have some speed.”

The Dragons will prepare for another hot night against the Eagles after experiencing trouble Friday with players going down with cramps. “We’ve got to do a better job. We ran a lot during the off week to try and prepare, but now we’ve got to continue to rehydrate and keep our kids fresh,” said Hutcheson.

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