Pinecrest Academy’s defense of its region title ran into another wall Friday night, as the Paladins dropped their second region game against No. 6 ranked Fellowship Christian, 42-28.
Pinecrest’s offense clicked, as it seemed that almost everything worked. It was only forced to punt twice, although it did throw an interception and had two turnovers on downs. Quarterback Ryan McCarthy threw for a career high 175 yards while also running for 87 yards, which tied for the team lead with Brooks Brinkley, and three touchdowns. Receiver Corey Downs caught five passes for 151 yards.
“That’s probably the most I’ve ever thrown for combined with all my games,” said McCarthy. “I’ve never thrown for a lot of passing yards. But if they are giving it to us, then we are going to go ahead and take it. It worked out for us anyways.”
Fellowship was able to survive the reigning region champion Pinecrest due to its four-headed monster on offense. Quarterback Jack Hardin ran for 45 yards and two touchdowns along with throwing for 84 yards. Running backs Andrew Johnson (159 yards), Andrew Minkert (109) and Merrick Haigler (78 yards on just three carries) ran for a combined 346, making it a total of nearly 400 yards on the ground.
“I think they had some real nice explosions,” Pinecrest head coach Todd Winter said. “They had some great big plays at the right times. We had opportunities tonight. It was a game of big plays. I think we had some big plays; they had some big plays. They really wanted this game.”
McCarthy agrees that it was a good game, but he knows the team needs to improve in certain areas, particularly on defense.
“It was a good game overall,” McCarthy said, “but I think we need to fix some things on defense. Our offense I think did pretty well. We were throwing down the field. It was a good game, but they fought hard. They’re a good team. We’re a good team. It’s just that we made some mistakes that we probably shouldn’t have at the wrong time at the wrong place.”
Coach Winter also knows that his team played hard and that they are always playing with a bullseye on their backs.
“I feel like the effort was definitely there,” Winter said. “I think there is no doubt offensively…defensively, I have to evaluate film and see what happened. I know we had a lot of missed tackles, but they have some good football players. What I tried to explain to our kids is that when we took this program over, we were 45 and 44. And now we’re 76 and 62. There is only one other team in our region that has a winning record as a program, and that is Mount Paran. Coming off of a region championship, everyone wants to beat you. We got a big game next week against Whitefield.”