GATE CITY — After having weathered the 2006 campaign, Gate City’s returning football veterans are learning to appreciate the simple things in life.
For instance, winning.
Running back Tyler Parks rushed for 186 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Blue Devils upended Group AA opponent Tazewell 41-21 in non-district action at Legion Field Friday night.
“We made some improvement. We’ve got a long way to go. But a ‘W’ is a ‘W’ and we’re glad to get us one,” said Gate City coach Nick Colobro, whose squad improved to 1-1 overall.
Parks, who sat out the end of last season injured, contributed a 21-yard scamper to the Blue Devils’ opening possession only to fumble the ball away to end the drive.
In the next series Parks looked more like his old, 100-percent self as he dodged and wrenched himself from the grasp of Tazewell tacklers en route to a 25-yard touchdown run with 1:43 remaining in the first quarter.
Early in the third quarter, Parks caught a screen left toss from Tihlee Anderson and was sprung by Brad Brown’s downfield block for a 48-yard TD.
“Once I got off that block it was wide open field for a touchdown. It was a great, great job,” Parks said.
“Defense did a great job last week,” he added. “This week, our offense had to work our butts off. Our offensive line did an excellent job all night. That’s why we got the win.”
The Blue Devil defense wasn’t anything to sneeze at, either. Gate City defensive back Dustin Jones — who knocked Tazewell wideout Matt Muncy’s headgear clean off during a second-quarter pass breakup — was typical of the aggressive, physical play aimed at the Bulldogs.
The Blue Devil offense, however, poured it on and finished with 487 yards of total offense.
Gate City added a 2-yard scoring crash by Jarrod Sanders and subsequently got a 29-yard scoring scramble from Anderson to put the Blue Devils up 28-0 with 3:32 remaining in the first half.
“We just concentrated this week on blocking and having a better offense,” said Anderson, who passed for 117 yards and rushed for 120, including his 15-yard scoring run at 3:43 in the fourth quarter.
“We blocked some people, our receiver ran the right routes and I had a lot of time to pass the ball. I felt a lot more comfortable in the pocket than I did last week.”
Tazewell quarterback Cody Lockhart gradually started feeling more comfortable in his own pocket.
He finally got the Bulldogs (0-2) off their short leash when he hit Muncy on a 48-yard scoring strike with 1:18 remaining in the first half. Lockhart went on to throw for 273 yards, including a 9-yard TD toss to Muncy that cut Gate City’s lead to 28-14 in the final minute of the third quarter.
The Blue Devil offense, which had been stifled the entire third quarter by the Bulldog defense and a fumble, came to life midway through the fourth period with a time consuming 95-yard ground drive capped by Anderson’s 15-yard TD run. That gave Gate City a 34-14 lead with 3:43 remaining.
Lockhart had time enough to burn the Devils one more time, on a 64-yard touchdown bomb to Richard Stansbury with 3:19 left. But Seth Musick pounced on Tazewell’s subsequent onsides kick attempt.
Anderson’s 32-yard run on the very next snap helped set up Parks’ 8-yard scoring crash for the final margin.
“Sometimes you lose your intensity. I don’t know if we did or not. I’ll have to see the film,” Colobro said. “But give Tazewell credit. They stayed in there and beat and banged and did a good job executing their passing game.”