Too much Elijah Parks for Raiders, who fall to St Paul, 38-20 on gridiron.
TORRINGTON: He’s that guy.
The player that can beat a team in so many ways even after you think you have somewhat controlled the damage he has caused you.
Elijah Parks is that guy, the guy who Friday night took his St Paul team on his back and led them to a 38-20 win over Torrington on the strength of five touchdowns and 370 yards of rushing.
Throw in a 96-yard kickoff return to start the second half and you get the picture. Parks is that good.
“He’s just a special kid who works real hard all the time,” Falcons head coach Jude Kelly said after the game, “It’s a pretty good group of seniors we have here this year and he is the kind of kid who stays quiet and does his work.”
The Raiders, who have simply been devastated by injuries to key players this season, had limited the damage the senior back had caused in the first half.
Parks broke free after starting a drive on their own two yard line following a terrific punt by P.J. Kilmartin that was downed by Tyler Marens deep in the Falcons territory but on second down from the four, Parks struck.
After breaking through the initial line, the senior back shook of a defender and made his way across the field, down the left sideline and into the end zone for an early St Paul 6-0 lead. The kick failed, on a rainy night in Torrington, both kickers struggled with their point after attempts.
With top receiver Zach Mancini out injured, the Raiders offense has had to rely on younger players to pick up the slack and for the second straight week, one did just that.
Freshman Jordan Henneberry caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Connor Finn on the Raiders next possession and after the Kilmartin extra point, Torrington had the lead at 7-6.
It went to the half that way but changed in the first 15-seconds of the second when Parks took the kick and went straight up the middle before cutting to his right and outrunning the Raiders for a lighting fast score that ceased any momentum the home team hoped to have.
Torrington appeared to answer right back on their next play from scrimmage when Finn found Marens for an apparent 78-yard touchdown pass but a block in the back would prove to be a big turning point.
Not only did the points not go up on the board but the Raiders drive stalled and the usually spot on Kilmartin missed a 25-yard field goal.
It took the Falcons and only Parks just four plays to drive 80-yards (all by Parks) and the lead was up to 19-7. What could have been a 13-10 deficit turned around thanks to the fast strike ability of Parks.
To their credit, the Raiders did not fold up their tent, head coach Gaitan Rodriguez was impressed with how his team played in parts of Friday night’s game.
“We played better,” Rodriguez said, “We have not been playing very good football the past three weeks but I told the team afterwards that we have to finish the season strong, that’s our goal.”
Torrington (3-5) responded with an 80-yard drive of their own which was capped off by a seven yard run by Newton Frias to keep it a one score game at 19-13.
Parks though, had other ideas and added two more scores, each two yard runs and finished the night with five touchdowns in all.
That’s why he’s that guy.
For the Raiders, Marens did his best to keep his team in the game, rushing for 155 yards on 25 carries.
Henneberry is going to be a player for Rodriguez down the line, the ninth grader caught three balls good for 36 yards and that touchdown.
Finn and Henneberryt nearly connected again in the second quarter but the play was broken up at the last minute by the St Paul defender.
The conditions on the field were not bad thanks to the new turf but the ball must have been slippery as Kilmartin struggled with his extra points and missed an easy field goal.
Now, to be real fair, folks in Torrington have been real spoiled by this kicker who will leave as one the best kickers the Raiders have had in a good long time.
Torrington travels to Seymour next week on Friday night to take on the Wildcats before their bye week.
A trip to Crosby and their Thanksgiving Day battle against Watertown at home will finish off what Rodriguez and company hope will be a good end to a season that featured a tough October after a terrific September.