Story by John Blake
Photos by Ryan Kaczmarski
Video by Kris Kantor
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Parma had a glimpse of both in just a matter of seconds.
After scoring a touchdown to potentially tie Lakewood in the final minute of their season opener, the Redmen had their extra point blocked and their hopes dashed. The visiting Rangers pulled out a nailbiter and held on for a 14-13 road win over Parma Friday night at Byers Field in Mike Ribar's head coaching debut.
Ribar could barely get his thoughts together and digest the feeling of his first win as head football coach.
"The whole summer, all we've been saying is that we want to compete," he said. "We want to be there at the end of the game and have a chance to win it. That's been our goal."
The Rangers were clinging to a one-touchdown lead for most of the second half before the Redmen marched a final comeback. After holding Lakewood to a three-and-out, Parma got the ball on the Ranger side of the field with just over four minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
Parma then put together one of its best drives of the night, going 43 yards in eight plays. The key play on the drive was quarterback Anthony Molek's long completion over the middle to tight end Troy Dusman, setting up a first and goal at the 1-yard line.
Molek plowed through the line with 1:08 left to cut the Lakewood lead to 14-13.
Pure jubilation erupted on the Parma bench and in the stands. Then came the extra point try. Lakewood senior linebacker Cody Riccotone broke through the line and got a hand on the ball to quickly sour the Redmen faithful.
The jubilation and excitement was now on the Lakewood's side.
Parma head coach Bruce Saban said a loss in this fashion wass definitely deflating.
"It is," he said. "That's the game of football. I'm very proud of our effort.
"They played hard, that's a good Lakewood team. We were right there. That's the way it goes. Its disheartening, but I'm very proud of their effort. There's things we can fix. What I'm very pleased with was how well we competed.
"That's what you ask kids to do and I thought they did a nice job of that," he said.
Lakewood got on the board first with one of two Quentin Hill rushing scores on the night. Hill carried the ball 14 times for 82 yards. His 4-yard run gave the Rangers a 7-0 lead with 1:20 left in the opening quarter on their first drive.
With both teams running more of a ball-control type of offense, the Redmen took nearly half the first quarter off the clock but failed to convert on fourth down.
They would get even later as running back Jovonate Cummings caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Molek halfway through the second quarter. Cummings led all rushers with 94 yards on 12 carries and also added a pair of receptions for 34 yards.
For Lakewood, Hill's second score came in the third on a 22-yard run to the end zone that allowed the Rangers to regain the lead.
Parma and Lakewood both had its opportunities to extend the score in either direction, but turnovers and stalled drives made it a low-scoring defensive battle.
Ranger quarterback Peyton Graham finished the game an effective 9-of-13 for 82 yards while Parma signal caller Molek was 6-of-12 for 77 yards.
"I think right now, the way we're at with our game, coming in honestly, we weren't quite sure where our defense was," said Ribar, who installed a new 5-2 front this offseason.
"We thought we could move the ball on the ground," he said. "I thought our quarterback played a great game today. It's not 300 yards, but he just did everything right. He completed probably 70, 80 percent of his passes. He was on fire on that, kept moving drives along.
"The running backs did a great job. The line, I think we got a little tired. We have three guys on the line going both ways. I'm proud of them," he said.
Part of the Redmen's struggles may have had to do with their poor starting field position on several drives.
"Our special forces were phenomenal today, that's what we call our special teams," said Ribar. "Our four punts, we pinned them down, and on the kickoffs we pinned them down.
"We made them drive the length of the field, and we didn't turn the ball over," he added.
Also contributing to each team's rushing attacks were Parma's Antonio Sanchez (11 rushes for 44 yards) and Lakewood's Michael Goolsby, who ran the ball 10 times for 56 yards.
Saban said there's a lot of work to do, but but that he's still confident in his team's chances in the Northeast Ohio Conference.
"We play a very tough independent schedule, but I think our league is wide open," he said. "I think if we get through our independence schedule healthy and continue to compete and get better, we've got a shot at the league.
"But that's a long way off," he added.
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Click on the cameras below for Ryan's photos and Kris' video: