TRION – Adam Guard scored two touchdowns, including a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter to lift Pinecrest Academy to 21-14 victory against Trion on Friday in a Region 6-A cross-over game on the road.
Guard’s touchdown run broke a 14-14 tie with 8:17 left in the game and helped the Paladins (3-0) escape with a significant victory over a previously unbeaten Bulldogs team that came into the game ranked No. 2 in the latest GHSA Power Ratings for Class A public school football.
"To travel that far, beat a quality opponent and to beat them at their place, it was just a really good football game," Pinecrest head coach Todd Winter said.
Trion (3-1) held advantages over Pinecrest in number of plays (62-34), total offense (223-215), time of possession (34:10-13:50) and first downs (19-10), and yet the Paladins managed to make plays when it mattered the most.
Not two minutes into the game, Pinecrest quarterback Ryan McCarthy scored on an 8-yard run to give the Paladins a 7-0 lead. Trion tied it up in the second quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Drake Clowdis.
McCarthy connected with Guard on a 13-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to go up 14-7, but Trion responded with a touchdown run from Gabe Howell (26 carries, 83 yards, TD).
Guard gave the Paladins the lead for the good in the fourth quarter. Pinecrest made a crucial stop late in the game to regain possession. The Paladins ran out the clock from there.
"It was a long bus ride. They were No. 2 in the Power Ratings, they were 3-0, and they were gigantic," Winter said. "I mean, just gigantic. And just a really well-coached football team. We had to fight."
McCarthy rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, Matthew Walters ran for 41 yards on nine carries and Guard had 27 yards on three carries.
Walters and Logan Hamilton each had a sack, and the Paladins got a crucial win heading into a daunting game next week against No. 4-ranked Mount Paran Christian, which won 56-14 over Kings Ridge.
"We’re going from the frying pan to the fire next week," Winter said. "We got to go to Mount Paran, and they’re a darn good football team. It was a good lead-up to that game."