A little extra effort went a long way for Howard quarterback DaLawn Parrish.
After apparently being stopped near the goal line, Parrish extended his arms and put the football in the end zone to finish a 5-yard touchdown run with 28 seconds left to give host Howard a 21-14 victory over Atholton in a Howard County game yesterday.
The victory keeps Howard (7-1, 4-1) in the hunt for a Class 3A playoff spot. The Lions, deadlocked with Hammond for first in the county, were tied with three other teams for the seventh spot in the Class 3A playoffs before the game.
Parrish sparked the Lions on their last drive. After Atholton (5-3, 2-3) tied the game at 14 on quarterback Jason Albert's 5-yard run and Chris Buscher's extra point with 4:16 left, the junior quarterback went to work.
He directed Howard on an eight-play, 73-yard drive with the last two plays being the keys. On second-and-one from the 17, Parrish was supposed to throw the ball out of bounds to stop the clock. Instead, he took off up the middle for a 12-yard gain.
On first-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Parrish rolled left and got stood up at the 1. He kept his feet moving, lunged forward and got the ball over the goal line for the winning score.
"I just stretched the ball," said Parrish, who finished with 63 yards rushing and 87 yards passing. "When we do what we have to, we can win any football game."
Parrish helped the Lions do what they had to -- especially in the second half. Atholton led, 7-0, at halftime after Howard spent much of the first half making mistakes.
The Lions started by fumbling -- and losing the ball -- on each of their first two plays. The second fumble set up the first Atholton score, a 7-yard Albert pass to Matt Treese.
Howard then ate up the next 9:39 with a 19-play drive. The Lions, however, came up empty after stalling at the 19.
In the second half, the Lions had the ball four times, and they scored three times while fumbling at the 2-yard line on the other possession.
Howard finally got on the board when Corey Curtis scored from a yard out with 6:56 left in the third quarter, slicing the Atholton lead to 7-6. Parrish sparked another drive late in the third quarter, but the Lions fumbled the ball away at the 2-yard line.
Brian Bush intercepted Albert at the Atholton 28 on the next play. Seven plays later, Parrish sneaked in from a yard out. Parrish then found Bush for the two-point conversion and a 14-7 lead with 10:48 left.
"[Parrish] steps up big whenever he has to," said Howard coach John Quinn. "He's a great player."
The big play on that drive was a 15-yard Guy Smith (94 yards, 14 carries) run in which he dragged at least three tacklers for five yards to the 2. Atholton answered, however, driving 78 yards on 14 plays to tie the game on Albert's run.
But Parrish then helped Howard drive for the game-winning points.