Parks leads football to colossal Homecoming win
Hunter Lyle – Reporter
Senior running back Eli Parks led Southern to a dominating homecoming victory over American International College Saturday with a final score of 48-21.
In the Owl’s seventh game of the season, league rushing leader Eli Parks finished with 161 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns.
“[Winning like this] feels great. We stuck to the game plan that coaches put out this week,” said Parks. “It feels great to have the stands filled like that and come out with a W.”
Coming into the game, Southern averaged 223.3 rushing yards per game, and possessed the top rushing offense in the NE10.
Southern started the game gaining long yardage in the early drives. On their second drive, a 41-yard pass from redshirt junior quarterback Matt Sanzaro to senior wide receiver Hunter Fluegel, gave Southern great field position in the AIC redzone. Parks later punched in for his first of four rushing touchdowns that game.
AIC eventually responded late in the first with a 23-yard pass from quarterback Prince Olubakinda to wide receiver Joshua Simon to make the score 7-7. With 1:33 left, Parks once again got the call. A 58-yard run put Parks in the end zone and left the score 14-7.
With help from Jarred Bennett- Moore, senior defensive end who had 3.5 sack on the day, AIC’s offense was unable to gain momentum up the field, and the Owls ran up the score to 34-14 at the half.
Parks said everybody was doing their jobs and helped open up the field, which made it easy to do the rest.
Coming out of half time, AIC received the ball on their own 15-yard line, and were forced three and out.
On Southern’s first drive of the half, the Sanzaro-Fluegel connection led to a 20 yard catch over a defender, landing the Owls at the seven-yard line. For his fourth score of the game, Parks took the handoff and rushed in the end zone.
Head coach Tom Godek said that he wasn’t satisfied with their energy in the first half and needed to motivate them to finish the game during the halftime break.
“I was happy how we came back after halftime and stopped them on their first drive and scored on our first drive,” said Godek. “I thought that was a good response to our halftime.”
Besides a late touchdown with 3 minutes left on the clock, AIC was held scoreless throughout the second half.
In addition to Parks, Sanzaro recorded 205 passing yards and two touchdowns.
“We knew we had to come out here and dominate,” said Sanzaro. “All three phases of football, special teams, defense, offense, we operated very well. We fired on all cylinders and we just came out and dominated. It was a good team win.”
Southern improved it’s record to 4-3. The Owls next game is scheduled for October 27th against Pace University in Pleasantville, New York, with their next home game being on November 3rd against LIU Post. Pace comes in with an identical 4-3 and 3-3 record as the Owls.
Godek said Park’s determination and team-first mentality, on and off the field, is what helps Southern be so successful.
“There isn’t a coach in America that would not want [Eli Parks] on their team. Besides his ability, just how he is as a person, we don’t talk enough about him as a person. He is the first guy to be showing a freshman what to do, he’s the first guy out here for practice,” said Godek. “All these little things, he’s a professional. He handles himself as a professional. We could throw 100 passes and he wouldn’t even say a peep.”
Photo Credit: Palmer Piana