ALPHARETTA – Pinecrest Academy traveled to King’s Ridge Christian School hopeful for a win to start the season. Greeted by student fans dressed in head-to-toe neon clothing, the away game energy was high. The hype faded as King’s Ridge took a quick lead and maintained it throughout the entire game, resulting in a 34-10 loss for Pinecrest.
An error-filled game on both sides, the Tigers gained possession on the 12 yard line after Pinecrest (0-1, 0-0 Region 8-A) fumbled a punt return. A 12-yard pass completed by quarterback Henry Jones to Austyn Hennings scored the first touchdown of the night and gave King’s Ridge a lead of 6-0.
A couple possessions later, in an attempt to get on the scoreboard before halftime, Alex Brenner kicked a 23-yard field goal and scored the Paladin’s first points.
"It was 6-3 at the half and in my opinion, we gave them the six with the short field," Pinecrest coach Todd Winter said. "Then we came out of the half and were moving the ball pretty effectively."
Although a more exciting half, the second half was an increasingly disappointing one for the Paladins who struggled to gain yards against the Tigers defense.
Two facemask penalties helped Pinecrest gain significant yardage downfield at the start of the second half, but a fumble recovered 64 yards for a touchdown by the King’s Ridge’s Connor Henderson put the Tigers up 13-3.
Less than a minute later, Pinecrest had another fumble on the 20-yard line that led to an opponent touchdown to give King’s Ridge a 19-3 lead.
Pinecrest continued to have trouble stopping King’s Ridge quarterback Henry Jones who completed most of the team’s 192 passing yards for the night. Jones’ 45-yard pass at the end of the third quarter was no different. After the completed pass, the Tigers rushed one yard into the end zone for another touchdown and extra point on the scoreboard.
After 21 unanswered points, the Paladins gained possession and continued to compete with the Tigers. A King’s Ridge personal foul helped Pinecrest move the ball and gain the first down it needed to score its only touchdown of the night. Andrew Wilborn’s 7-yard run into the end zone brought the score to 27-10 with 10:04 left in the fourth quarter. Wilborn rushed for 50 yards.
"If we as a team could’ve improved on one thing, it would have been ball security," Wilborn said. "Next week we need to hold onto the ball, not make mistakes and just give the other team the ball."
Another King’s Ridge touchdown and extra point sealed the fate and the final score of the game between the Tigers and the Paladins.
In a first game filled with a total of 15 penalties and eight fumbles, Pinecrest struggled to gain constancy and hold onto the ball while King’s Ridge played a successful passing game.
"Our kids never gave up," Winter said. "It’s a long season; one game doesn’t make or break a season. I think this is our strongest opponent we play out the gate in the first five weeks. Our pride is hurt a little, but they’ll bounce back."