By Bob Giordano
For the Forsyth County News
The drought continued for the Pinecrest Academy Paladins Friday night as they lost their 11th game in a row. But their fate wasn’t decided until the final one minute and 22 seconds of the game.
Trailing the Mount De Sale Cavaliers 21-16 with the ball on the Cavs 12 yard line, Pinecrest quarterback Ryan Difazio weaved his way to the 1-yard line. A bad snap on the next play saw bodies from both teams diving for the ball at the goal line. When the dust cleared, the Cavaliers had the ball and a 21-16 win.
“They became a team tonight,” said Paladin head coach Terance Mathis. “They overcame adversity and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
He had tears in his eyes.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Paladins took a 3-0 lead on a 22-yard field goal by senior Conner Sassine. That lead lasted just two minutes. Cavalier quarterback Connor Gilbert hit a wide open wide receiver Patrick Green at the Paladins’ 26-yard line. Three straight runs by Gilbert , including a nifty 20-yard swivel-hip run to the Pinecrest 6-yard line led to a Gilbert short plunge to make it a 7-3 Cavalier lead after the extra point.
The Paladins fought back and added another Sessine field goal to take a 9-7 lead at the half. Mount De Sales wasted no time taking the lead back just 30 seconds into the third quarter. After a dazzling 33-yard run by Gilbert, which led Paladins defenders strewn across the turf as a result of Gilbert showing them a hip and taking it away. Gilbert then hit Micah Hattaway from six yards out. The point after made it 16-9 Cavs.
Pinecrest quarterback Difazio had trouble finding open receivers as the Paladins tried to put a wrinkle in the offense by getting away from the run game midway throughout the third quarter.
“Their pass defense confused us for a while,” said the Paladin quarterback.
By the time they found some success through the air, it was too little, too late. The final 22-16 score found the Paladins suffering their 11th straight loss but determined to not repeat last year’s record.
“I’m determined to not have another losing season,” said Difazio.