Parker Leads Pierce's Rush Past West L.A.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It wasn't supposed to be this easy for Pierce College tailback LaShante Parker.

Going up against West L.A., a difficult team to run the ball against, Parker figured he would have to strain for every gain.

Yet Parker was among the surprised Saturday after he rushed for a career-high 230 yards in 30 carries to lead visiting Pierce (5-1-1, 4-1-1 in conference play) to a 21-12 Western State Conference Southern Division victory.

"I thought they were supposed to be a pretty good defensive team against the run," Parker said with a puzzled expression. "It didn't look like it to me."

It did on paper. The Oilers had surrendered a grudging 126 yards a game on the ground.

West L.A. (2-5, 1-5) did succeed in containing Anthony Florence, Parker's backfield partner and former Palmdale High teammate, holding him to 38 yards in 11 carries.

Parker rushed for two touchdowns and had 10 gains of 10 or more yards. On the game's opening possession, Parker carried four times for 60 of the Brahmas' 65 yards and capped the drive with a 32-yard dash off tackle.

Parker, who increased his conference-leading rushing total to 898 yards, had 150 yards by halftime as Pierce grabbed a 14-6 lead.

"Our strength is running the football," Pierce Coach Bill Norton said. "We have a great offensive line and good backs. We're able to run against anyone."

However, while Pierce had an easy time on the ground--the Brahmas rushed for 309 yards--it was not so easy on the scoreboard.

West L.A. matched Parker's touchdown early in the second quarter on a 70-yard flea-flicker pass from quarterback Roman Foster to wide receiver Ronald Peebles. The extra-point attempt was blocked, however, and Pierce maintained a 7-6 lead.

Pierce used the final six minutes of the half to move 80 yards in 15 plays and expand its margin to 14-6.

Parker, nursing a bruised thigh suffered last week against L.A. Southwest, shouldered most of the load, carrying 10 times for 68 yards.

Quarterback Cesar Parra hit wide receiver Shannon Culver--another former Palmdale High player--with a four-yard pass for the touchdown 11 seconds before intermission.

Throughout a scoreless third quarter and during much of the fourth, West L.A. couldn't mount much of an attack. Pierce repeatedly pinned the Oilers deep in their own territory, forcing them to punt four times.

Early in the fourth period, Pierce pressured punter Keyshawn Johnson into running out of the backfield and the Brahmas took over at the West L.A. 35. Five plays later, Parker ran five yards for a touchdown.

West L.A.'s final touchdown drive echoed its first. Foster, who completed 13 of 22 passes for 236 yards, lofted a 38-yard desperation bomb that was caught at the Pierce 28-yard line by Derek Armester--even though Armester didn't appear to be the intended receiver.

Two plays later, Foster hit Peebles with a 19-yard touchdown pass. A two-point attempt failed.

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