MABLETON – Special teams and defense helped Pinecrest Academy get on the board in the first half, while the offense imposed its will in one single drive to start the third quarter to produce a 19-0 shutout on the road at Whitefield Academy on Friday night.
Mitchell Ojeda intercepted two passes in the first half, returning one 21 yards for a touchdown to give Pinecrest a 9-0 lead, and Wills Brown had a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery on one play to help the Paladins win the turnover battle. Pinecrest scored the game's first points on a safety when Whitefield's high snap on a punt went out of the back of their own end zone, just moments after their first punt attempt was blocked by Nolan Stafford and recovered by Brown.
While the offense outgained Whitefield 274-100 for the game, the faces on Pinecrest's players after the contest suggested they left points on the field. The offense had four turnovers on downs during the game, with three coming in the red zone.
“I think we felt like we probably could have scored 40 points tonight,” Pinecrest head coach Todd Winter said. “We didn't, but what I'm proud of is we didn't turn the ball over. We've played five games and have two turnovers. The ball was slick tonight, but we protected the ball. The offense wasn't perfect, but the special teams and defense played lights out.”
A fumbled punt by the Wolfpack in the second quarter gave Pinecrest, already leading 9-0, the ball at the scoring-side of the 50, but Pinecrest stalled inside the 10-yard line. After two previous fourth down scoring attempts failed, Michael Bizores entered and knocked through a 25-yard field goal.
It was Pinecrest's first drive of the third quarter where the difference was made. Pinecrest ran 13 consecutive runs to open the second half, including four in a row to fullback Matthew Walters. Walters carried 18 yards to the end zone at the end of the drive, giving Pinecrest a 19-0 advantage and the game's final score. The drive took seven minutes off the clock.
“Coming out of the third quarter one of the things we knew was that we had to run away from No. 57 (Whitefield Academy’s T.J. Carter), so we started running (up the middle),” Winter said. “We just blocked out with our tackle and double teamed the nose guard and gave it to the fullback, because they were so fast. We knew we had to go straight at them. It worked out well for us. I think we ran that the whole way down the field.”
Carter and senior linebacker Cameron Jenkins made outside runs tough for Pinecrest all game. While Ojeda ran for 12 yards on six carries on the edge, Walters and Gregory Varghese combined for 113 yards on 25 carries. Quarterback Ryan McCarthy rushed for 104 yards on 16 carries, while he was just 1 of 6 passing for 12 yards in the air—his lone completion to Carson Holler.
Walters and Brown each finished with one sack, while Ojeda's interception return was courtesy of a McCarthy tipped pass. McCarthy also nearly had an interception returned for a touchdown later in the game.
Whitefield quarterback Luke Persons was 10 of 27 passing for 69 yards and two interceptions, but wasn't helped by nine drops from receivers. Jenkins led the Wolfpack on the ground with 34 yards on just three carries.
Pinecrest Academy 19, Whitefield Academy 0
Pinecrest Acad. 9 3 7 0_19
Whitefield Acad. 0 0 0 0_0
PA_Ojeda 21 interception return (kick good), 1:12
PA_Birozes 25 FG, 5:23
PA_Walters 18 run (kick good), 5:23