JOHNS CREEK – Mount Pisgah handed Pinecrest Academy its first region loss of the season by a score of 21-14 at Savior Field in Johns Creek on Friday night.
The Paladins (5-2, 2-1 Region 6-A, Div. B) were moving the ball well in the first quarter, but mistakes prevented them from putting any points on the board.
“We had some opportunities to put the ball in the end zone early, but penalties and miscues cost us a couple chances,” Pinecrest head coach Todd Winter said. “Not scoring on the opening drive really hurt us. When you’re facing a high-powered offense like this, you have to take advantage of your opportunities.”
Mount Pisgah (5-2, 2-1) was able to get on the board first in the second quarter when Georgia State commit, Aaron Winchester, scampered 18 yards for a Patriots score. It was a methodical 11-play, 92-yard drive that ate up nearly five minutes of clock and gave the Patriots an early 7-0 lead, which they carried into the half.
Pinecrest came out in the second half and drove right down the field in seven plays and capped it off with a 6-yard touchdown run from Adam Guard to tie the game at 7.
The Paladins finished the game with 44 carries for 169 yards, with five different players shouldering the load.
“I’m proud of everybody on this team,” Guard said. “Ryan McCarthy played great, the o-line stepped up in the second half, everyone dug their feet in and fought till the end.”
The Patriots responded immediately with another long drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Winchester to Osby Dixon, putting Mount Pisgah up 14-7.
Penalties stalled yet another Pinecrest drive deep in their opponents’ territory, and brought up a fourth-and-18. The Paladins ran a fake punt that was completed to Nick Palmer down the sideline, but picked up only 17 yards for a turnover on downs.
The Paladins were 3-for-4 on fourth down conversions in the game.
After a 1-yard touchdown run from Winchester put Mount Pisgah up 21-7 early in the fourth, Pinecrest’s Ryan McCarthy fumbled on the opening play of the ensuing possession, seemingly ending the Paladins’ chances. But two plays later, Peter Nelson picked off Winchester in the end zone, keeping Pinecrest’s hopes alive.
Winchester finished the game with 88 yards on 6-of-10 passing with a touchdown and an interception. He also added 15 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, but coach Winter was pleased with the effort his team gave.
“I think we contained [Winchester] pretty well,” Winter said. “We were spying him as well as trying to create pressure. He’s a great player and this is a really good team. No one else has held this team under 28 points this year.”
McCarthy orchestrated an 11-play drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Palmer with 37 seconds left. Palmer ended the game with five catches for 75 yards and a touchdown.
But after a failed onside kick attempt, that was all she wrote for the Paladins, as they came up just short.
“We started slow, but we kept fighting,” Pinecrest’s Jacob Hanley said. “We’re going to hit the film room on Monday. We have Fellowship coming up. In our region we know everyone is gunning for us and we just have to step up, get ready for the next week and keep working hard.