Pinecrest Academy held a three-point lead at halftime before a series of unfortunate events, including five interceptions, saw Cherokee Christian reel off 20 unanswered points for a 27-10 win Friday at Pinnacle Field.
"Our boys played extremely hard against a well coached and tough opponent," Paladins head coach Shawn Coury said. "We put ourselves in a great position going into halftime. In the second half, we had a few tipped balls bounce the other way, and that put us in a tough spot. We will just keep working to improve this week."
The hosts scored on their final two legitimate drives of the first half — not counting a kneel down to enter the break with a 10-7 edge. After a scoreless opening stanza, Pinecrest canceled out Cherokee Christian's opening touchdown with one of its own.
John Olah connected with Keegan Kaster for a 16-yard touchdown to even the score at 7-apiece, and in the waning minutes of the second quarter, Pablo Nunez drilled a 34-yard field goal for the lead.
However, the second half saw the visitors pick off a handful of passes to fuel their comeback. The Warriors intercepted throws on the Paladins' first two series, cashing in the second for a 14-10 advantage.
The next Pinecrest possession ended in the same fashion, as the ball went off the hands of a Paladins wide receiver and into those of a Warriors defender. Cherokee Christian turned that pick into a 21-10 lead just before the end of the third period.
Pinecrest went three-and-out on its subsequent drive before having tipped passes that Cherokee Christian hauled in end its final two series. In between those interceptions, the Warriors extended their lead to three scores.
Olah and Jacob White split time at quarterback, with each completing 11 passes albeit for just 164 total yards. Johnny Lynch (61 yards) and Peter Birozes (34 yards) recorded six catches each, while Luke Coury (32 yards) posted five receptions.
Brock Barbee finished with 10 tackles and an interception. Matthew Mitchell made eight stops and recovered two fumbles.
Now 3-6 on the season, Pinecrest will close out the regular season with a trip Nov. 4 to The Walker School in Marietta.