MARIETTA – Pinecrest Academy rained on Homecoming night at The Walker School with big plays and stingy defense to open Region 6-1A play with a 35-0 victory Friday on the road.
Paladins senior quarterback Ryan McCarthy led the way showcasing strong numbers in a small sample size by completing 3 of 6 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns, all of which came in Pinecrest’s 28-point second half outburst. Walker couldn’t capitalize on opportunities in the red zone, committing two turnovers while missing a 31-yard field goal attempt in its three trips inside Pinecrest’s 20-yard line.
Brooks Binkley was the go-to man on the opening drive for Pinecrest, carrying the ball for nine of the 10 plays for a total of 60 yards, which was capped off by an 18-yard score by Binkley to gain an early 7-0 lead.
Junior Thomas Rath looked to respond in a similar fashion for the Wolverines. The Walker running back touched the ball nine times for 39 yards to lead Walker down to the Pinecrest 11-yard line before a Brigham Strother fumble on a botched snap led to an ominous trend for the home team.
Walker drove to the Paladins’ 14 on their next possession but missed a field goal just before halftime.
Pinecrest’s offense showed its true potential. McCarthy found Corey Downes on a five-yard curl who lateraled it to a trailing Michael Birozes for a 54-yard touchdown on the hook-and-ladder, one of four consecutive drives in which the Paladins reached the end zone.
McCarthy connected with Downes later in the third for a 40-yard score, and PInecrest ended the game with touchdown runs of 39 and 6 yards by Birozes and Hunter Hawk, respectively.
Pinecrest out-gained Walker in total yards in the second half 236 to 59.
The inability to convert in the red zone while allowing for opponents to capitalize on their mistakes have been a trend for Walker and it reared its ugly head once again.
“Offensively, we are doing a great job moving the ball but then we have a play or two that sets us back and we are not able to convert into points,” Walker head coach Matt Casper said. “Defensively, we put teams into long-yard situations and we give up a big play and ultimately that is why we are where we are.”