Yellow Jackets thrive in underdog role, pound Panthers

BACK IN ACTION: After missing games with injuries, Byrd’s Lake Lambert and running back Josh Allen were impactful for the Yellow Jackets Friday night. (Photo by APRIL JOHNSON, Journal Sports)

By JERRY BYRD, Journal Sports 

After back-to-back district losses, visiting C.E. Byrd may have limped into its game against undefeated Parkway on Friday, but it didn’t take long for the Yellow Jackets to swarm the previously undefeated Panthers, 39-14.  

 “I’m proud of them,” Byrd head coach Stacy Ballew said. “They had a great week of practice. We had lost two in a row and that’s hard. They never quit practicing hard. They stayed positive. Hats off to our kids. They did a great job.” 

Byrd (5-2, 2-2 District 1-5A) was aided by the return of starting quarterback Lake Lambert, who sat out of last week’s 23-14 loss to Haughton because of a head injury sustained in the second half in the blowout loss the week prior at Benton.  

Byrd running back Josh Allen made his return Friday night as well. Allen broke his collarbone in the Week 1 win against Pleasant Grove.  

“It was nice to see Josh Allen and Lake Lambert running the ball,” Ballew said. “They definitely bring something to the table as far as senior leadership and athleticism.” 

Lambert answered Parkway’s (6-1, 3-1) first score of the game with a 26-yard touchdown run with 6:10 left in the first quarter. Lambert added a 14-yard touchdown in the third quarter. 

“It sucked,” Lambert said of having to watch from the sidelines a week ago. “I hated it. It was the worst thing in the world. Just not being able to help out the team when I knew I could be.” 

He made up for lost playing time. Lambert finished with 114 yards on 16 carries. 

Allen added two touchdown runs — the first a 17-yard effort at the end of the first quarter, and the second a 7-yard run at the beginning of the fourth quarter. 

“It felt great,” Allen said. “I had a couple of good runs early. I couldn’t have done it without my offensive line and my teammates.” 

Allen finished with 60 yards on 10 carries. 

Byrd junior running back Devin Strickland was on the only other Yellow Jacket to score a touchdown. His touchdown was the final score of the game, a 3-yard run with 3:30 left in the game. Strickland rushed for 80 yards on 17 carries. 

Junior kicker Abram Murray added a second-quarter 36-yard field goal for the Jackets. Murray’s first point after attempt in the fourth quarter was blocked. It is the first PAT miss of his high school career. 

While Parkway’s special teams may have taken points away from the Yellow Jackets with the blocked kick, they would give Byrd two points in the middle of the second quarter. A snap sailed over the Parkway punter’s head, and he kicked it out of the back of the end zone.  

As impressive as the Byrd running game was, the Purple Swarm defense stole the show, limiting Parkway speedster Jaylan White to 63 yards on 13 carries. White came into the game averaging more than 10 yards per carry. The Yellow Jacket defense limited him to 4.8 per touch. 

Despite two Parkway touchdown passes from Ashton Martin to Trenton Lape (48 and 21 yards), the Byrd secondary allowed only 191 passing yards. Sacks by Byrd defensive linemen Isaiah Ford and Brennen Belanger helped matters.   

For the third consecutive week, Byrd’s All-City linebacker Brooks Brossette tallied double-digit tackles. He had 10 unassisted tackles and two assists. Two of Brossette’s tackles were behind the line of scrimmage. Ford also had a pair of tackles for a loss.  

“We realized we have everything we need to beat anyone in this district,” Brossette said. “Everyone has to do their part and not any more than that. I think we all came together – especially on defense – tonight and we got things done.”   

The game was plagued with penalties. Byrd committed 12 penalties for 85 yards and Parkway had eight penalties for 83 yards. Both teams had one player to commit two unsportsmanlike fouls and be ejected from the contest.  

Byrd had no turnovers Friday after committing four consecutive turnovers in the second half last week in the loss to Haughton. 

The Yellow Jackets will host Airline Thursday at Lee Hedges Stadium. The Panthers will host Natchitoches Central on Friday. 

Contact Jerry at sbjjerrybyrd@gmail.com 

Byrd 39, Parkway 14

Score by quarters

Byrd | 14 | 5 | 7 | 13 | – 39

Parkway | 7 | 0 | 0 | 7 | 14

Scoring summary

P – Trenton Lape 48 pass from Ashton Martin (Aeron Burrell kick)

B – Lake Lambert 28 run (Abram Murray kick)

B – Josh Allen 17 run (Murray kick)

B – Murray 36 FG

B – Safety

B – Lambert 14 run (Murray kick)

B – Allen 7 run (kick blocked)

P – Ashton Martin 21 pass Lape (Burrell kick)

B – Devon Strickland 3 run (Murray kick)

Individual leaders

Rushing

Byrd (50-309) – Lambert 16-121, Strickland 17-80, Allen 10-60, Dufrene 1-27.

Parkway (22-36) – Jaylan White 13-66, Martin 7-16, Antonio Gladney 1-0, Team 1-0.

Passing

Byrd – Lambert 5-8-0, 76 yards.

Parkway – Martin 16-28-0, 191 yards.

Receiving 

Byrd – Dufrene 2-49, Connor Ridenour 1-19. 

Parkway – Lape 8-127, White 4-18, Collier 2-17, Jatavious Calhoun 1-17.