Commentary

Parker redeems fourth quarter INT with game-winning drive

Originally Published: January 5, 2008
By Christopher Lawlor | ESPN.com

Kyle Parker Tom Hauck for ESPN.comQB Kyle Parker led Silver's game-winning fourth quarter touchdown drive.
ORLANDO -- Kyle Parker was dubbed "Sunshine" by the organizer for the inaugural Under Armour All-America High School Football Game.

With shaggy blonde hair, he resembled the quarterback with the same name from the movie, "Remember the Titans."

Parker, who has committed to Clemson, will be remembered for nearly making a costly mistake but in a flash redeeming himself before a sellout at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.

Parker's touchdown pass late in the contest was the difference as the Silver Team rallied for a 17-14 victory over the Red Squad on Saturday.

The game showcased 80 of the nation's top seniors, with a majority of the players in the ESPN 150 player rankings.

"That's what great players do when they've made a bad play; give him credit," said opposing quarterback Mike Glennon of the Red Team, referring to Parker's fourth-quarter gaffe.

Leading 10-7 in the final period, the Silver Team hoped to wipe out the clock with a time consuming drive. That's when Parker of Bartram Trail High in nearby Jacksonville fired an interception. Defensive back Charles Whitlock of Chester (S.C.) returned the pick 32 yards to give the Reds new life and a 14-10 lead with 8:28 left.

"My bad," Parker said, smiling. "It was my fault; it was miscommunication. I shouldn't have thrown it but at least I had a chance to redeem myself."

Did he ever.

[+] EnlargeJamie Harper
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comJamie Harper flips for joy after his fourth quarter touchdown catch put Silver ahead for good, 17-14.
Parker (9 of 13 for 114 yards, two interceptions) engineered the game-winning drive on the next possession as the Silver Team went 55 yards on eight plays. Jamie Harper of Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) caught a four-yard TD with three minutes left for the decisive score.

Harper christened the end zone with a forward flip.

"I've been waiting to do that," Harper said.

The Reds had a final chance, driving to midfield but on fourth down Brandon Harris of Booker T. Washington (Miami) batted down Glennon's pass which intended for Josh Jarboe of Cedar Grove (Decatur, Ga.) at the 20.

"He the best receiver I went up against all week," Harris said.

Earlier in the game, Jarboe told a national television audience on ABC that he'd be attending Oklahoma.

"Defense usually wins games," said defensive end DaQuan Bowers of Bamberg (S.C.)-Ehrhardt, who was named the Red Team's most valuable player. "Because of the special rules we were limited but were told to put pressure on the (offensive) line."

The Silver Team took its first lead with 7:31 left in the third quarter as D.J. Grant's leaping, acrobatic 32-yard catch made it 10-7. UCLA-bound quarterback Nick Crissman of Edison (Huntington Beach, Calif.), after misfiring on his first two passes, clicked on the next, including for the TD to Grant of Johnson (Austin, Texas).

[+] EnlargeJulio Jones
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comNo. 1 prospect Julio Jones hauled in six passes for 97 yards in the 2009 UA game.
North Carolina State-bound Glennon's keeper from the two gave the Red Team a 7-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter. Glennon of Westfield (Chantilly, Va.), hit on four of five passes on the drive mainly to Julio Jones of Foley (Ala.).

Jones, fighting double-teams tactics throughout the game, caught six balls for 97 yards. Glennon passed for 88 yards, completing five of 12 passes.

"The offensive line and wide receivers made big play on the drive," Glennon said. "Everyone executed well."

The Silver Team registered three points when Jeff Locke of Mountain Ridge (Glendale, Ariz.) nailed a 30-yard field goal with 5:41 left in the first half.

The Silver team took the opening kickoff into the red zone, but a key sack by Omar Hunter pushed the ball back nine yards to the 17, where the UCLA-bound Locke missed wide right.

The first half was played a quick pace, taking less than an hour to complete.

Glennon, his team's MVP, completed the three passes for 59 yards. Calhoun did a bulk of the ground work for the Reds, carrying seven times for 18 yards.

The Silver Team, which moved into the red zone twice on their three possessions, saw Parker going 6 of 7 for 77 yards, including a 23-yarder to A.J. Green of Summerville (S.C.).

Will Hill's interception on the last play of the first half preserved the Red's 7-3 lead. It was a busy week as the players arrived on Dec. 29. The teams had double sessions for three days before shortening practices as the week progressed.

Dann O'Neill, a lineman from Grand Haven (Mich.), said the high level of play will prepare him for the next level.

"This week will help me transition to college next year," said O'Neill, who with sign his national letter-of-intent with Michigan. "I'm sure it'll be (college) a rude awakening at least I have a taste of what I can expect."

The all-star game featured subtle rule changes, which made it fan friendly and flow: • Kickoffs were from the 30-yard line (normally the 40).
• Kickers used a one-inch block, one inch shorter than high school.
• Cover 3 or Cover 1 only on defense (three-deep zone or man-free zone).
• Four or five players rushed (no more than three rushers on one side of the center).
• No blocking below the waist -- cut or chop blocks.
• No huddle offenses were not permitted.

Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA TODAY, where he was the head preps writer responsible for national high school rankings in football, baseball and boys and girls basketball. He also for worked for Scholastic Coach magazine, where he ran the Gatorade national player of the year program for nine years. Lawlor, a New Jersey resident, grew up in Rochester, N.Y. and is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University.

Christopher Lawlor

High School Basketball
Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA TODAY, where he was the head preps writer responsible for national high school rankings in football, baseball and boys and girls basketball. He also ran the Gatorade national player of the year program for nine years.