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Football: Paladins run over Mustangs
Pinecrest scores most points in program history in victory
sports-pinecrestvernon1altwebsmall JP
Pinecrest Academy running back John Paul Metz is flipped in the air during a run against Mount Vernon on Saturday in Atlanta. - photo by Jared Putnam

ATLANTA — Jimmy Strom’s legs carried Pinecrest Academy to a record-setting day.

The senior quarterback broke two of the school’s individual rushing records while leading the Paladins to their most offensive yards and most points in history during a 56-27 win against Mountain Vernon on Saturday afternoon at the Mustangs’ field.

Pinecrest (1-1) finished with 464 yards of total offense, shattering the previous single-game program record of 387 that was set when the team was playing in the Georgia Independent School Association. The Paladins gained 403 of those yards on the ground Saturday, easily surpassing their previous best of 317 rushing yards.

Strom broke individual program records for rushing touchdowns in a game (five) and rushing yards in a game (201) on only 15 attempts — an average of 13.4 yards per carry. Running back John Paul Metz added another 144 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.

"To be honest, I just want to give the credit to my offensive line," Strom said. "They did a great job blocking and we saw how [Mount Vernon] lined up and we got ourselves in the right play. That’s what created all the lanes for the backs and myself."

The Paladins also solved the turnover problem that plagued them during their 45-7 loss to King’s Ridge in the season opener on Aug. 31. The Paladins did not committ a turnover Saturday after turning the ball over seven times against King’s Ridge.

"When you turn the football over, it’s really tough to win," Pinecrest head coach Todd Winter said, "and we didn’t have any [today]."

Strom started his record-breaking day with a four-yard touchdown run that capped a five-play, 75-yard drive. After a 67-yard touchdown run by Mount Vernon (1-2), the Paladins responded with a three-yard touchdown run from Strom.

The Mustangs scored again after a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Elijah Burnette, but missed the extra point, bringing the score 14-13 to close out the first quarter.

Mount Vernon tallied 370 yards of total offense for the game, but its offense struggled to finish drives after the first quarter.

On the Paladins’ first two possessions in the second quarter, Metz kept up the offensive attack with touchdown runs of 60 and 41 yards, respectively. Strom finished off the quarter with a 15-yard strike to Zach Guard in the corner of the end zone to boost the lead to 35-13 at the half.

"When there’s no one there to tackle you, you can run all day, so I enjoyed it," Metz said. "Our line really opened up holes and the coaches were calling the right plays based on [Mount Vernon’s] defenses."

"This [season] is the first time we’ve ran this [triple-option] offense and this is the first time we’ve really seen it work. That’s a big step for us to [take going] through the rest of the season."

Penalty flags littered the field during the third quarter, as Pinecrest and Mount Vernon combined for five personal fouls.

"It was just human emotions," Winter said. "They’re supporting their team and we’re supporting our team. When you invest in the amount of time we do and they do, emotions can get you. Football is an emotional sport."

When penalty flags weren’t being thrown, Strom scored on touchdown runs of five, 63 and four yards. The Mustangs’ only response in the third quarter came on an nine-yard touchdown run from Burnette, as the period ended with the Paladins up 56-19 after a failed two-point conversion.

Burnette scored the only points in the fourth quarter on a nine-yard run and a two-point conversion.

"Offensively, we recognized what they were doing and we made the adjustments," Winter said. "Defensively, we bent a little bit in the first quarter, but we didn’t break. We made those adjustments. We did a good job of covering people up."

Pinecrest will host Lakeview Academy (2-0) in the Region 8-A opener Friday night.