By Michael Finnegan / Special Contributor
CORSICANA – Parish Episcopal scored six unanswered touchdowns to capture the TAPPS Division II state championship on Saturday, beating rival Dallas Christian 56-14.
It was seesaw battle initially, as the teams traded two touchdowns apiece. But that ended the scoring for Dallas Christian while Parish (13-1) was just getting started.
Dominic Williams rushed for 269 yards and four touchdowns, and also caught a late touchdown pass for the Panthers, who racked up 670 yards of total offense and scored on their first five possessions. Xavier Suggs finished with nine receptions for 145 yards, and had two interceptions on defense.
“There’s no cliques on this team,” Suggs said. “We wanted to end the season right, and with a common goal and hard practice, we made it happen.”
The two schools were longtime district rivals before this season. The Chargers have dominated the series over the years, with Parish’s only previous win coming in 2010, when the Panthers won their only prior state title.
On Saturday, Parish struck first at the 10:54 mark when Tom Stewart threw a 62-yard strike to Xavier Suggs. Samuel Dethrow’s extra point gave Parish an early 7-0 lead.
Dallas Christian (11-3 overall) would answer immediately. After a 70-yard return on the ensuing kickoff, Tyler Cook’s 1-yard dive up the middle made it 7-6 Parish (the PAT was blocked).
Then the Williams show began. Hescored his first of five touchdowns with a 71-yard scamper to regain the lead for the Panthers at 14-7 with 8:36 left in the first quarter. Again Dallas Christian responded quickly, this time on a 42-yard run by Cook. The Chargers (11-3) tied the score when Palmer Nix and Jacob Yarbrough connected for the two-point conversion.
The Panthers offense, led by Williams and quarterback Tom Stewart, along with an overpowering offensive line, reeled of 42 straight points. And their defense shut out Dallas Christian for the remaining three quarters.
“This is a wonderful group of men and a very special group of seniors,” said Parish head coach Scott Nady. “I don’t know of another 11 players on either side of the ball that love each other more than this group.”
With 1:49 left in the first period and the game tied, Stewart threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Dakota Michaels to put Parish ahead 21-14. Stewart threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score.
On the season, Stewart passed for 35 touchdowns – including 17 to Suggs – with just two interceptions, while Williams had 34 rushing touchdowns and averaged more than 11 yards per carry. The Panthers finished the year with 11 straight wins.