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August 30, 2014

Parks, Mascoutah pull away from Central

Mascoutah's speed came as advertised Friday.

The Indians, led by senior quarterback Tim Parks, defeated Central 35-21 in the season opener for both teams. Parks passed for three touchdowns, ran for two and had an interception at safety.

"It's nice to get a win in your first game," Parks said. "Breese Central is a really good team; they're really disciplined. We celebrate tonight and enjoy it tonight, but tomorrow we start on Effingham."

Parks rushed for 120 yards on 20 carries and was 7-for-10 for 138 yards through the air. Junior Misikei Thomsen added 112 yards on 21 carries as the Indians justified coach Scott Battas' optimism about what could be a special season.

"We'll take it," said Battas, whose team rushed for 321 yards on 57 carries. "I just told the kids, 'I'm really proud of them.' I thought we had a lot of kids do a lot of different things tonight.

"We weren't perfect. We've certainly got to clean the penalties up and be better. But I felt we beat a good football team. ... Timmy obviously made some big plays and kept some drives alive. We did what we needed to do and I'm pleased."

Central coach Brian Short's worst fears came to pass as Parks extended plays with his elusiveness, turning them into double-digit gains on the ground or in the passing game.

"They can basically play two types of football," Short said. "They've got the big running back (Thomsen) where they can pound away at you, and you keep putting more guys in the box to stop them. Then they've got the ability to stretch the top of the defense."

Central took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 22-yard TD run by junior Brent Timmons. But then Parks took over.

On the Indians' next possession, Parks had a 33-yard TD pass to senior Tracion Bell that tied the game at 7. He followed with second-quarter TD passes of 17 yards and 24 yards to senior wideout Barry Richardson that made it 21-7 at the half.

The 24-yard pass to Richardson, which came with 25 seconds to play in the half, culminated an 87-yard drive after the Cougars lost a fumble at the Indians' 9-yard line.

"We drove all the way down the field and made some nice plays in our execution of the two-minute drill," Short said. "We go in right there and it's a tie game. (But) we end up fumbling and they drive down and score right before the half. That's a big swing."

Central got within 21-14 on a 31-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Josh Dunning to junior Brennan Kent to start the third quarter. Cougars senior Cameron Wellan then recovered a Mascoutah fumble at the Indians' 49.

The Cougars advanced to the Mascoutah 15 on a 34-yard pass from Dunning to Kent, but two plays later, Richardson picked off a Dunning pass, maintaining the Indians' seven-point lead.

Parks' 20-yard run up the middle made it 28-14 midway through the fourth quarter, and his 9-yard scurry made it 35-14.

"It's no secret that our speed is definitely our strength," Parks said. "We have Barry on the outside and he can run a 4.4, and everyone else runs a 4.5. Then we have Thomsen who will pretty much punch you in the mouth in the middle. We have a pretty good mix of players."

Central's final touchdown came with 45 seconds left in the game on a 20-yard pass from Dunning to sophomore Bailey Stewart.

"Mascoutah's a good team," Short said. "If they stay healthy this year, they should win some ballgames. ... (Parks) is able to create with his legs. But we're going to bounce back. If we go 8-1, we'll never remember this loss. That's the plan."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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