Pinecrest Academy fought valiantly before ultimately dropping a 42-28 decision Friday at Creekside Christian.
The Paladins and Cougars went back and forth most of the night before a key pick-6 by the hosts turned the tide in their favor.
"We made Creekside fight for every inch," Pinecrest head coach Shawn Coury said. "Our boys played very hard and responded to every bit of adversity we faced throughout the game. I am very proud of the team. It is always tough to lose but our guys played their guts out. As a coach, you have to be pleased with that."
Luke Coury blocked a field goal and returned it 87 yards for a touchdown to give Pinecrest (3-4) a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Creekside Christian found the end zone during each of its next two drives on either side of a missed field goal by the visitors.
Just before halftime, a vital interception by Johnny Lynch gave the Paladins great field position.
A 35-yard pass from Paladins quarterback Jacob White to Lynch took Pinecrest inside the 10-yard line in the waning moments of the second quarter. Brock Barbee capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge, putting the Paladins down 15-14 at the break.
While the Cougars scored another touchdown to begin the third period, Leo Groza blocked the point-after try to keep the locals within 21-14.
White and Lynch connected on an 11-yard touchdown strike, and Pablo Nunez evened the score with his PAT.
After Creekside Christian regained the lead but proved unsuccessful on the 2-point conversion, Pinecrest had its chance to forge ahead. However, the Cougars intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown to take the first two-score lead of the evening.
Even though the Paladins responded with a 10-yard scoring toss from White to Keegan Kaster, an onside kick went out of bounds and the hosts sealed the win with a touchdown inside the final minute.
A non-region matchup versus The King's Academy Oct. 21 at Kell is next on the docket for Pinecrest.