players were standing behind their own banner when the Grayson Rams burst through their's before the start of Friday's football game in Lilburn.
In the middle of the Grayson banner was a big red "As Seen on TV" logo, perhaps a reference to all the national media attention the Rams have garnered this year.
Don't think for a second that it wasn't noticed by the Panthers.
"Yeah, I saw it," said Parkview running back Chris Carson. "But we know that anybody can be beat. I think they came out a little cocky ... and we kind of took that as an offense to us."
Turns out the mighty Rams, ranked No. 1 in Georgia and on many national polls, weren't ready for prime time in the Big Orange Jungle Friday night, falling hard to the Panthers 22-7.
The opportunistic Panthers took advantage of everything offered up by the Rams and came away with the biggest win in Lilburn since many of them were in middle school (and some in grade school).
"You play the No. 1 team in the nation, you gotta give them your best for 48 minutes to be in the game," Head Coach Cecil Flowe said. "We hit on all cylinders. Defensively, we played out of our minds again."
Carson, who unofficially had 66 yards on 23 carries, scored two touchdowns to lead the Panthers (2-1), including a 1-yard clincher with 3:37 left in the game. Parkview also scored on a 12-yard pass from Rob Youngblood to Mac Marshall and a 26-yard field goal by Tyler Stephenson.
"This win ranks right up there with winning two state championships in baseball," said Marshall, also a baseball player. "The biggest thing we told ourselves [before the game] today, was to believe in ourselves."
"The doubters motivated us," said receiver Jay Turner, who had a 27-yard touchdown catch called back by a penalty. "We were focused the whole week in practice and weight training. Coach pushed us through and got us prepared."
Grayson (2-1) scored with ease on its first possession on a 45-yard TD pass from David McTier to Cory Schaeffer — coming on what many thought was a fifth down — then fell apart afterward. The most damaging mistake may have been a fumble by Robert Nkemdiche from the 3 late in the first half. The ball tumbled into the end zone and was recovered by Parkview's Turshard Kimble-Brinson. Instead of what looked to be a 14-6 halftime lead, the Rams led only 7-6. Parkview's first TD also came on a Grayson turnover, a bobbled shotgun snap by McTier that Justis Rosser recovered at the Grayson 8. Carson carried the final yard for the TD.
Grayson also was hurt by two instances of double 15-yard penalties in the second half, both leading to Parkview scores. Two 15-yarders after a Parkview punt return gave the Panthers the ball at the Grayson 29 and led to the Marshall TD. Personal foul and unsportsmanlike penalties after a 23-yard run by Rosser moved Parkview from its own 24 to the Grayson 23 — a net gain of 53 yards. That eventually led to Stephenson's field goal.
Then, after a Grayson pass completion to midfield with five minutes remaining in the game, Rosser stripped the ball away from the receiver and returned to the Grayson 37. From there, Carson gained 32 yards on four carries and scored from the 1 to close the scoring.
Win with a Cost
Flowe reported that Youngblood suffered a broken collarbone late in the game and may not return to action for more than a month. "It's broke, so we've got to do something else [at quarterback], but we will. We'll find a way."
Parkview got defensive
A strength for the Panthers despite their offensive difficulties so far, the Parkview defense play well, particularly in the second half, manhandling the Rams down the stretch. Unofficially, Grayson had about 50 yards of offense in the second half. "They made some yards, but they never got the big one after that first one," Flowe said. "Rosser played out of his mind."
Tough Road Ahead
With playoff contenders Archer and Brookwood the next two weeks, Parkview doesn't have too much time to celebrate the big win.
"[The win] gives us momentum through the rest of the season," Carson said. "Before, everybody doubted us, that we couldn't beat the No. 1 team in the nation, but after this game we know we can compete with anybody."
Added Flowe: "It's a momentum step and as I told the kids, it's been six years since you won a big game like the one you won tonight. You see what it takes to do it. You've got to come back next week prepared to do the same thing."