After opening the season two straight weeks on the road, Pinecrest Academy gave the crowd in its home-opener a show, coming back from down two touchdowns with 6:35 left in the fourth quarter to force overtime and pull out a 27-24 victory Friday against Trion.
Down 21-7 in the fourth quarter, the Paladins (3-0) scored two touchdowns in a span of 2:07. The first score came from an 18-yard pass and catch from quarterback Ryan McCarthy to Carson Holler. Holler came up huge just two minutes later when he returned an 80-yard punt to tie the game at 21-21.
Trion took possession with three minutes left, but helped by a big sack from Will Patota, the Paladins forced the Bulldogs to punt and ran the clock out to send the game in overtime.
The Bulldogs got the ball first to start overtime at the 15-yard line and were held to just a field goal. Pinecrest took just three plays to get its game-winning touchdown – a Mitchell Ojeda 8-yard run, a McCarthy 5-yard run and a Matthew Walters 2-yard rumble.
“It was exciting,” McCarthy said. “The line did really well. We were pushing it down the field the whole night. We just couldn’t capitalize until the end.”
Little went right for Pinecrest at the start. Trion’s Devonya Farmer returned the opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 6-0 after missing the extra point attempt. The Paladins responded with a 1-yard touchdown run by McCarthy to take a 7-6 lead, which was set up by a 50-yard kickoff return by senior running back Mitchell Ojeda. But Trion followed with a 25-yard touchdown run by senior running back Gabe Howell to make it 13-7.
Twice the Paladins had big plays called back on holding penalties – a 41-yard catch by Holler that would’ve given Pinecrest the ball at Trion’s 2 in the first half, and a long scramble by McCarthy into Trion territory in the second half.
“I’m not sure how we did it to be honest with you,” Pinecrest head coach Todd Winter said. “The way the game started off, with them returning that kickoff, the delay of game and then kicking it out of bounds, we got behind the 8-ball real fast against a real good football team. [Trion was] very determined tonight.”
Special teams played a major role in this game, and coach Winter knows it.
“I was very pleased with our return game,” Winter said. “Our coverage game, we did not execute well tonight. That is something that I will take the blame on. I coached that up really hard this week and we didn’t execute. We will need to be better next week.”
McCarthy led the Paladins with 4 of 9 passing for 50 yards and a touchdown while running the ball 21 times for 71 yards and a touchdown. He also recovered one of the two fumbles forced by the Pinecrest defense.
Trion was led by their running game that totaled 197 yards on 39 carries with two touchdowns, as well as quarterback Jarret Gill throwing for 53 yards on 7 of 9 passing.
Pinecrest 27, Trion 24 (OT)
Trion 13 0 0 8 3_24
Pinecrest Acad. 7 0 0 14 6_27
T_Farmer 82 kick return (miss kick), 11:42
PA_McCarthy 1 run (Birozes kick), 9:30
T_Howell 25 run (Weaver kick), 6:56
T_Clowdis 1 run (pass good), 6:44
PA_Holler 18 pass from McCarthy (Birozes kick), 5:07
PA_Holler 80 punt return (Birozes kick), 3:00
T_FG Weaver 25, :00
P_Walters 2 run, :00