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Big moment for Pinecrest Academy football in 21-14 win over North Springs
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Pinecrest Academy’s Adam Guard finishes off a hook-and-ladder for a 28-yard touchdown in the first quarter Friday of the Paladins’ 21-14 victory over North Springs. - photo by Bill Brown

Pinecrest Academy 21, North Springs 14

North Springs 0 6 0 8–14

Pinecrest Acad 14 0 0 7–21

First Quarter

PA: Ojeda 6 run (kick good), 9:25

PA: Guard 28 pass from McCarthy (kick good), 0:41

Second Quarter

NS: Reid 1 run (kick missed), 0:22

Fourth Quarter

NS: Reid 1 run (pass good), 11:18

PA: Walters 1 run (kick good), 9:20

Pinecrest Academy started and finished strong in Friday night’s game against Class AAAAA opponent North Springs. In a night where they couldn’t get much going through the air, the Paladins accounted for 255 yards on the ground, averaging over six yards a carry to pull out a 21-14 victory.

The win on Friday night had more riding on it than just a victory. It was the first time that the Paladins have faced a team above Class AAA. After the milestone game for the program, Pinecrest coach Todd Winter was proud of his team, saying, "I am very happy with our progress, it was a huge victory for us."

Winters elaborated on further implications that came with his team’s victory, with his eyes on the playoff picture. The Georgia High School Association divided Class A into public and private for the 2011-12 athletic year and created a power rating system for teams to qualify for the state playoffs. Several factors determine a team’s rating, including wins against teams in a higher classification. Winter was pleased with the five playoff points the program earned from the victory, saying it was a "gigantic" advantage moving forward.

Mitchell Ojeda was the star that emerged from the Paladin’s backfield in Friday night’s game. He was busy early, recovering a botched punt after his defense forced a stop on the opening drive. Fittingly, Ojeda capped the drive off with a 6-yard sweep into the end zone to put Pinecrest up 7-0. The Paladins’ running attack was on full display the following drive, as they put together a 94-yard march down the field. The drive ended in a flashy hook-and-lateral that senior Adam Guard took 28-yards for the score, putting them up 14-0 just before the second quarter.

North Springs didn’t go down without a fight. Backup quarterback Tyler Reid put the team on the board before halftime with a 1-yard plunge with 0:22 left in the half. The Spartans adjusted coming out of halftime, stopping the interior push from Paladins junior fullback Matthew Walters allowing North Springs to control the clock. Reid tied the game on a 1-yard run just 0:42 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Despite the Spartan’s defensive efforts, Pinecrest’s running attack proved to be too versatile, displaying a dangerous option attack in the fourth quarter. Ojeda (9 carries, 112 yards) thrived in the change of pace and boosted the team with a 52-yard run. The drive ended with a Walters touchdown with 9:20 left, enough to propel the Paladins to victory.

Ojeda was modest after the game, despite averaging over 12 yards a carry. He credited his great night to his offensive line and fellow backs for setting him up with fantastic blocking.