Patriots Improve To 4-0
The Pinecrest football team improved to 4-0 on Friday at the very place the program nearly bottomed out two years ago.
The Patriots rode a strangling defense that forced four turnovers, including two picks by Darion Hailey, to a 19-0 victory at Southern Lee (0-2).
The entire first half was spent in Cavalier territory, and the Pats only had to defend their side of the field on one series in the entire contest.
The Patriot offense failed to take full advantage of its favorable field position, and turned the ball over three times. But it produced enough points, including an electrifying 61-yard touchdown run by Bret Toomer, and a 30-yard scoring connection between quarterback Ben Williams and wide receiver James Baldwin.
"I promised you'd enjoy this, but does the road get tougher," second-year head coach Chris Metzger asked his happy players afterward.
"Yes sir," they responded in unison, knowing very well the conference opener at Douglas Byrd (2-1) looms ahead after a bye week.
Southern Lee defeated Pinecrest 63-0 on that night in 2006. The Pats played under the cloud of not knowing whether the rest of the schedule would be canceled because of a shortage of experienced players. It was a story that attracted statewide media to the game, including television crews. The Patriots finished 0-11.
Senior linebacker Neil Major remembers that game well. Then a sophomore running back, Major was promoted from the jayvee team to increase the number of players on varsity.
"The first time I ever touched a ball in a varsity game was that night," he said. "I remember coming back from the game with a huge bruise on my forehead where I got slammed into the ground. I just think that gave me a lot of fire to come out tonight with a lot of intensity. I've been waiting for a long time to beat them at their house."
Junior Darion Hailey, didn't play that night two years ago, but he set the tone Friday with an interception on the third play of the game. Early in the second period, defensive lineman Manny Sheppard made another statement play, standing up the Cavs' James Butler in his backfield for a loss that brought on the punting team.
"Their offensive line was talking a lot of junk," Sheppard said. "I was going to be first-class like coach Metzger said, and just play ball. I figured the more they talked, the more it would make me want to play."
The Pats were unable to capitalize on good field position until Hailey's second interception set the offense up at the Cav 48 midway through the second quarter.
On the second play from scrimmage, Williams threw a pass that was touched by his target, Jarrin Wooten, before falling into the hands of tight end Spencer Bishop for a 25-yard gain. The Patriots converted a fourth down along the way before Williams ended the drive with a one-yard sneak. The conversion by Baldwin made it 7-0 with a minute left in the half.
The Patriots got some needed insurance by scoring twice in a four-minute span in the third quarter to extend their advantage to 19-0.
On the first play after a Cav punt, Toomer appeared to be trapped for a loss before streaking down the right sideline for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Linebacker Zavione Thompson recovered a fumble by Cavalier quarterback Mike Foxx on the next series, leading to the 30-yard touchdown strike from Williams to Baldwin.
The Patriots wound up with a 306 to 190 edge in total offense. They rushed for 225 yards led by Toomer with 96 on five carries and Jamel Verbal with 95 on 16 attempts.
Bishop, offensive tackle Sam Cole, and linebacker Shane Fluet were other current Patriots who played i the 2006 game against Southern Lee.
"When were first came out on the field, all those memories came back," Bishop said. "I wanted us to redeem ourselves. We had to have it."
Metzger normally prefers to stay in the now, but made an exception on the occasion of the program's first 4-0 start since the 1984 team won its first five games.
"Two years ago, they talked about ending this," he told his players.
"Now you've put us on the map. You guys that were here two years ago, you've made this community smile."
Pinecrest 0 7 12 0 19
Southern Lee 0 0 0 0 0
Scoring (P) Williams 1-run (Baldwin kick); (P) Toomer 61-run (kick failed); (P) Baldwin 30-pass from Williams (pass failed).
Individual stat leaders Rushing (P) Toomer 5-96, Verbal 16-95, McLean 4-27 (S) McLeod 22-64; Passing (P) Williams 4-12, 81 yds., td., 2 int. (S) Foxx 2-6, 39 yds., int.; Receiving (P) Baldwin 2-38.?
More like this story