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Football: Pinecrest ends season with heartbreaker to Oglethorpe County
Pinecrest Academy's Tripp Hochman races an Oglethorpe County player during a punt Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. - photo by Brian Paglia

The Pinecrest Academy Paladins' (1-9) attempt at a 48-yard field goal was blocked by the Oglethrope County Patriots (1-9) with 30 seconds left to end the Paladins’ season in heartbreaking fashion.

With the game tied at 34, under four minutes to play and the ball at their own three-yard line, Pinecrest dropped back to pass, and the pass fell incomplete. Unfortunately for the Paladins, a player committed holding in the endzone for a safety, in what would be the difference in the game.

Pinecrest was led offensively by quarterback Ryan DiFazio, who threw for 293 yards and tallied four total touchdowns (three passing, one running). Peter Hoover also played a big role with a 25-yard touchdown run and three catches for 97 yards and another touchdown. Five other receivers also got involved by catching at least two passes, and on defense, the Paladins racked up three total sacks.

Following the crushing loss, DiFazio had nothing but positive things to say about his teammates and first-year head coach Terance Mathis.

“We threw the ball really well tonight,” DiFazio said. “I feel like we did better blocking, and we threw better on the short routes. My teammates did a great job catching the ball when I threw it to them, (as) I relied heavy on them. (And Coach Mathis) told us to keep fighting, even if we are down by a lot. Just keep fighting until the end. We fought until the end tonight, but it just did not turn out our way.”

Coach Mathis also had nothing but praise after the loss and knows that there is plenty to look forward to heading into year two under his tutelage.

“I just want to see how we come out and how we play and how we finish,” Coach Mathis said. “The last two weeks has been beautiful. There is something to build on ... It was beautiful, and it is going to get better. We’ll have more players, and we’ll be bigger, faster, stronger than we were this year. And we will be better. Now that we have a whole year under the system, we’re going to be a lot better. I have to applaud, especially offensively, all the stuff that we put in this year. You saw the different formations, and the different things that we do. We can do it all, and it is a credit to (the players) and how smart they are.”

The Patriots were led on offense by running back George Gresham, who ran for 252 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns. Oglethorpe County quarterback Chase Helwig completed four of his 10 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns with receiver T.Y. Patton catching three passes for 151 yards and two of the touchdowns.