The South Park Sparks remained unbeaten through four games, but it wasn't easy as Class A South foe and former Harvard Cup rival McKinley gave them all they could handle and then some.
The Sparks thwarted a late comeback try by the Macks to earn a 12-7 victory before more than 2,000 fans at All High Stadium on a hot, sunny Saturday afternoon.
Jeremiah Sanders and Greg Braswell blew up a fourth-and-4 running play by quarterback Taelon Hollamon with roughly 2 minutes left near the South Park 40 to preserve the triumph in a hard-hitting defensive affair.
First strike: It didn't look like South Park would have much trouble moving the ball on the Macks judging by its first offensive drive. The Sparks went 65 yards on 15 plays after blocking a McKinley field goal attempt. The drive ended with Deabeyon Humphrey finding Dayquan Anderson for the 10-yard touchdown in the end zone to cap a drive that milked nearly 8 minutes of clock.
Defense, defense: It shouldn't have been surprising the defenses dominated this contest. South Park entered the game having not given up a defensive score while the Macks held two of their first three opponents to 12 or fewer points. While South Park had its big fourth-down moment late in the game, McKinley had one of its own when it held the Sparks to no yards on four plays after they earned a first-and-goal at the 1 during their first drive of the third quarter. South Park yielded a total of 149 yards but did surrender its first defensive touchdown -- Fields on a 4-yard run with 7:34 left. The Sparks finished with 224 yards in offense.
Stats: Fields rushed for 89 yards for the Macks on 28 carries. Humphrey completed 11 of 14 passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns for South Park, while Clarence Thomas rushed 20 times for 81 yards.
Nice grab: The Sparks punched in their second score with 25 seconds left in the third quarter as Humphrey spun away from a sack on third-and-goal from the 11 and found Shyquan Brodie in the back of the end zone with Brodie making the nice leaping grab.
Rankings: South Park came into the game ranked No. 5 in the News' Large Schools poll and ranked No. 15 in the state sportswriters' poll. McKinley's unranked.
Records: South Park is 4-0, McKinley 1-3.
Next: South Park hits the road and visits Iroquois, while McKinley -- which now must win out and hope tiebreakers work out in its favor in order to make the postseason -- visits Hamburg. Both contests are Class A South affairs.