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Football: Pinecrest falters late in loss to Mount Pisgah
Pinecrest's Michael Birozes runs with the ball during the Paladins' game against Mount Pisgah on Sept. 22. - photo by Bill Brown

Pinecrest Academy Paladins faltered to Mount Pisgah Patriots down the stretch to remain winless in Terance Mathis’ first season as head coach.

It was a close battle until late in the third quarter, when the Paladins, down 34-24 at the time, got a three-and-out and forced a punt. However, the punt return was muffed and recovered by the Patriots, who scored a touchdown just a few plays later to put the game out of reach at 41-24. The Patriots would add another touchdown with four minutes left in the game to officially seal the 55-24 victory.

Pinecrest (0-4) was led on offense and defense by Michael Bizores, who had nine carries for 54 yards and two touchdowns, as well as being all over the field making lots of tackles. Quarterback Mickey Mangan went 19-of-37 passing for 217 yards and one touchdown, and his brother, Colby, reeled in five passes for 71 yards.

After the game, Bizores said he likes where this team is heading.

“We’re getting better,” said Bizores. “I’m happy with the way we played today, but not like 100 percent. We’ve got to play better … we still lost, so we’re not happy. We’re going to keep on fighting, and we’re going to do the best we can.”

Coach Mathis knows his team played hard, and was just a few plays away from winning the game.

“We came back and made it a game,” Mathis said. “… I can’t ask for a better bunch of guys. They’re dead tired. Some of them are playing both ways, and they are playing their hearts out. I can’t ask for anything more.”

Mount Pisgah (4-1) was led offensively by the quarterback Jacob Cendoya, who finished the game going 14 of 28 passing for 296 yards and two touchdowns while racking up 93 yards on the ground on seven carries and three more touchdowns. The Patriots had four receivers – David Woodward, Kai Williams, Trey Murphy and Connor Pursell – with at least three catches and no less than 45 yards.

Bizores also said that they will need to work harder in the coming weeks.

“We’ve got a lot of games coming up,” he said. “Big region games where we’re going to have to play harder than that. That wasn’t enough.”

Overall, Mathis seemed impressed with how well his team has been improving.

“Our offensive line played well,” Mathis said. “We gave up a couple sacks, but they were late in the game… they’ve been doing well the past three weeks.”