WATKINSVILLE — It was a nail-biter for Pinecrest Academy in the season opener, but the Paladins prevailed, topping Westminster Christian 30-24 in double overtime.
It was a rough start for the Paladins, as quarterback Zach Wilson threw an interception on Pinecrest’s first possession, which the Lions ran back for a touchdown, then added a two-point conversion to go up 8-0.
The visitors struck back on the opening play of the second quarter, when Wilson found the end zone on a two-yard keeper, and a Paladin two-pointer evened things up, 8-8.
The Lions took their next possession 60 yards for a score, converting the deuce to go up 16-8. Pinecrest freshman John Depalma later got his first career touchdown, hauling in a 50-yard catch with 8:13 left before halftime.
The Lions led 24-16 at the break, with neither team scoring in the third quarter.
With 8:51 left in regulation, Pinecrest’s Kevin Metz ran three yards for a touchdown and recorded the two-point conversion, which tied the game at 24. That’s where things stood after four quarters.
Overtime came next, with each team getting a shot from the opponents’ 35-yard line.
Neither team scored in the first overtime session. Westminster had a third-and-one situation at Pinecrest’s 15, but John Schaefer and E.J. Bueltel combined on a sack to force the Lions back 10 yards and into a long fourth down, which they couldn’t convert.
Schaefer, Bueltel and Michael Cassandra all recovered fumbles during the game.
The deadlock was finally settled in the second overtime, as Metz ran 10 yards for a touchdown. The ensuing two-point try was no good, but Pinecrest’s defense held the Lions out of the end zone to clinch the win on the next possession.The
Paladins travel to Macon on Friday to take on Windsor Academy, the team who ended Pinecrest’s season a year ago in the first round of the GISA state playoffs.