CROWN POINT — Even though Jayden Parkes hadn't eaten solid food all week until Thursday, he attempted to play a night later.
After having braces put on his teeth Monday, La Porte's sophomore running back had only been consuming liquids until a day before Friday night's Duneland Conference game.
"It was super hard,” Parkes said of playing after not eating much solid food this week. “I got dizzy at times. I was dehydrated."
Nevertheless, Parkes made his mark early, darting 69 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown run to give his team a 7-0 lead a little over three minutes into the game.
“I saw Isaac (Alexander) come out to block him,” Parkes said. “I cut it up. There was just a huge hole there. I just took off.”
The Slicers weren't able to sustain that quality start, nor a 10-7 advantage early in the second quarter, as the Bulldogs' defense stymied them after the break, holding them scoreless on their way to a 21-10 win.
Fellow sophomore, quarterback Collin Bergquist, who didn't practice until Thursday, started after coming into this contest as a game-time decision with a right foot injury. He showed little ill effects of being hobbled, as he ran the offense efficiently and rushed for 51 yards on 15 carries.
After La Porte trailed 14-10 at half, the defense of Crown Point (4-3, 3-2 DAC) rose after the break, sniffing out the flexbone attack of the Slicers (1-6, 1-4) and using favorable field position to turn the game in its favor.
"We talked about some things at halftime, some things we liked,” La Porte coach Jeremy Lowery said of his team's offense. “We were just missing some details. It has nothing to do with effort. The kids played very, very hard. We've just got to continue to work on the finer points of the game.”
Following a scoreless third quarter, the Bulldogs seized control midway through the fourth as the visitors' defense did an admirable job keeping them in the game.
Quarterback Will Pettit connected with Ben Uran on a 15-yard touchdown pass, extending the lead to 11 points midway through the last quarter. Pettit rolled right and bought some time after he was under pressure, then found Uran open in the right side of the end zone.
"Their quarterback did a great job," Lowery said. "That was kind of the nail in the coffin."
That came after the home squad got terrific field position inside Slicers territory after a punt.
Pettit tossed three touchdown passes to three receivers, finishing with 186 yards while going 17-of-27. The Slicers scuffled all game defending Crown Point's tall, athletic receivers.
"They've got some big, rangy kids," Lowery said. "The quarterback does a nice job putting the ball up there and getting them in some jump-ball situations. They were able to take advantage of a couple of those."
The Bulldogs also parlayed an effective field position game in the second stanza into a winning strategy. They repeatedly backed up the visitors into their own end, and made them drive nearly the length of the field for a score.
“It's really tough,” Parkes said. “Especially when they've got a backer who's just screaming at us and filling all our holes. We're just struggling to get out of our own end. It's super tough on us. I wasn't in the right mindset either after halftime. I got down on myself.”
After getting down 7-0 at the outset, Crown Point answered with a methodical 79-yard TD drive, capped by Pettit’s 9-yard pass to Felix Meeks to knot the score 7-7 with 2:42 left in the first.
La Porte responded to go ahead for the second time. It marched 50 yards in 12 plays and took a 10-7 advantage on Javier Robles’ 30-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
But once again, the Bulldogs rallied. They put together another solid drive and scored on Pettit’s second passing touchdown, this time to Tysen Cazy on a 10-yard floating pass to the far left side of the end zone.
On the night, Alexander recorded 38 yards on the ground and played his usual defensive back position. Bergquist went 1-for-6 passing for 28 yards.
Uran paced the Bulldogs with 72 yards receiving, while Pettit led CP with 33 yards rushing.
Despite his discomfort, Parkes earned 110 yards rushing with an exceptional 10-yards-per-carry average.
“Jayden's got some special talents," Lowery said. "He's a sophomore along with many other sophomores that we're rolling out on the field. We're very excited about him and what the future holds with him. He got to show some of his talents on that (touchdown) run.”
Parkes said he was able to power through his adversity due to his teammates.
"They've always got my back, always," he said. "We're a brotherhood. We're all brothers. We all love each other.”
Crown Point 21, La Porte 10
The Slicers' Jayden Parkes led all rushers with 110 yards.