Pinecrest Academy 30, St. Francis 27
St. Francis 0 0 14 6 7 0–27
Pinecrest 0 3 0 17 7 3–30
PC: FG Metz 22, 0:00
SF: Franke 3 run (kick good), 11:47
SF: Showell 6 run (kick good), 5:25
SF: Franke 1 run (kick no good) 10:26
PC: Hamilton 25 pass from McCarthy (kick good), 2:15
PC: Hanley 30 interception return (kick good), 1:50
PC: Metz 23 FG, 0:00
PC: McCarthy 1 run (kick good)
SF: Cummings 16 pass from Davis (kick good)
PC: FG Metz 26
With only three minutes remaining in Pinecrest Academy’s home game against St. Francis on Friday, the Paladins trailed their opponents 20-3, seemingly guaranteeing a loss for the upstart Paladins. But in a furious comeback, Pinecrest scored 17 unanswered points in the final minutes and forced double overtime, eventually sealing the win, 30-27.
Pinecrest (5-1, 2-0 Region 6-A, Div. B) showed incredible resolve late in the contest, overcoming a host of costly mistakes that spotted St. Francis (4-2, 0-2) an early advantage. St. Francis looked dominant for most of the second half, but was unable to halt the Paladin comeback in the final minutes of the game.
"It all comes down to making plays," Pinecrest coach Todd Winter said. "In the end, we capitalized off of their mistakes and this certainly was a game of mistakes. We found a way to win, and I couldn’t be prouder of our effort tonight."
The Paladin offense, which had struggled to move the ball in any significant way, suddenly came alive late in the final quarter. With 3:57 left in the fourth quarter and trailing 20-3, quarterback Ryan McCarthy put aside his early mistakes and connected with senior Logan Hamilton on two huge pass plays, the latter being a 25-yard touchdown strike in the corner of the end zone, cutting the lead 20-10.
"With the score being 20-3, we had to keep our spirits high," Hamilton said. "After talking with (Ryan) McCarthy, we got some things figured out and that’s how we came away with the victory."
Moments after the Hamilton score, the Paladin defense created their own signature moment. With 2:15 left, the Pinecrest defensive line tipped up a wayward St. Francis pass. Senior linebacker Jacob Hanley snagged it out of the air and sprinted 30 yards back the other way for a touchdown, narrowing the margin to a field goal, 20-17.
After St. Francis failed to move the ball on their next possession and was forced to punt, the Pinecrest special teams blocked the kick and recovered, setting up the offense in St. Francis territory with less than a minute remaining in the game. The Paladins worked their way down to the Knights’ 12-yard line, setting up a 28-yard attempt for kicker Greg Metz.
Metz’s attempt sailed wide left, momentarily stunning the home crowd into silence. But mourning quickly turned to jubilation when a penalty was called for late contact on the kicker, giving the Paladins a second chance from 23 yards. Metz converted the do-over, sending the crowd into a frenzy and the game into overtime.
The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime, but Pinecrest finished the job in the second stanza, forcing a turnover-on-downs during the Knights’ possession and ending the contest with a 26-yard Metz field goal.
"Whether in football or in your personal life, never quit," Winter said. "You never know what can possibly happen."