Baldwin, Williams Spark Patriots
If Friday night's football game between Pinecrest and Overhills were part of a movie, James Baldwin might have only received credit for a cameo appearance.
The senior wide receiver entered the fray late in the third quarter after the upset-minded Jaguars had scored a touchdown that cut the Patriot lead to 21-12. He was only on the field for a total of about four minutes in the game, but that was long enough to combine with quarterback Ben Williams for four catches and two touchdowns.
An electrifying 31-yard scamper by Raphael Alston the next time the Patriots had the ball made it three touchdowns in a five minute span, easing the way to a 42-18 victory in Spring Lake.
The 16th-ranked Patriots improved to 3-0 while the home team dropped to 0-3. Next Friday the Pats entertain West Johnston (1-2).
With the Patriots leading 21-6, the Jags made it look too easy on a 10-play 78-yard drive, all on the ground. It ended in a two-yard touchdown burst by Tyree Massey. The conversion run was stopped. But seriously challenged by an opponent for the first time in the young season, a decision was made to bring on Baldwin who injured an ankle in last week's game at Union Pines.
"If we didn't have to we weren't going to use him," assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Cameron Bennett said. "But unfortunately, it came down to where Harrison Deen kind of got banged up and we really needed him. We put him in and went right to him."
A 37-yard kick-off return by Jyhe Utley set the Patriots up at the Overhills 48. Looking things over from behind the center, Williams could see Baldwin flanked to the right matched up with a cornerback. The safety was 25 yards away with his eyes glued to the line of scrimmage.
"I was thinking touchdown all the way no problem for J.B. to beat one guy," the Patriot quarterback said.
After a run by Damion Pride gained three yards, Williams barely overthrew Baldwin on second down. Two of the next three play calls were fades to the same area. The first one picked up 28 yards. The second Baldwin grab went for 20 and a touchdown that made it 27-12.
Moments later, a fumble recovery by Hunter Ocheltree gave the ball back to the Patriots at the Jag 40. Still single-covered, Baldwin's number was called three times in a row. Williams connected with him on a slant for 20 yards. The wide receiver drew a 10-yard holding call on the next play before receiving a 10-yard scoring pass.
Coupled with a two-point conversion run by Pride, the Patriots led 35-12 and Baldwin's evening was over.
"His hand-eye coordination is unbelievable and he's just an all-around good athlete," Bennett said.
The Patriots took an early 14-0 lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Patrick Moore and an eight yard interception return by linebacker Travis Scales. Patriot fumbles gave the home team short fields for their first and final touchdowns. But, Jaguar ball carriers Massey and Christian Moultrie gained a combined total of 160 yards on 38 carries. That caused Patriot head coach Chris Metzger some concern along with almost 100 yards in penalties.
"The kind of dissatisfying part is that Overhills did run the ball pretty well," he said of the first opponent this season to enjoy such success. "They may have established an identity for themselves. The exciting part is that everybody got to play."
Other defensive highlights before a large contingent of Patriot fans included an interception by Rakeen McLaughlin and a blocked extra point by Blake Shoop. Shoop played both ways, taking the place of the ill Tucker Lee on the offensive line as well as having a standout night on the defensive line. The defense produced three turnovers and stopped the Jags twice on downs.
Williams was on target all night, completing nine of 12 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Deen caught three, including one for a 42 yard gain. Pride led the team in rushing with 79 yards on 11 carries, a touchdown and the two-point conversion.
Contact Charlie Bergmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pinecrest 14 7 6 15 42
Overhills 0 6 6 6 18
Scoring (P) Travis Scales 8- interception return (Dillon Maples kick); (P) Patrick Moore 12-pass from Ben Williams (Maples kick); (O) Devonte Jefferson 1-run (kick blocked); (P) Damion Pride 5-run (Maples kick); (O) Tyree Massey 2-run (run failed); (P) James Baldwin 20-pass from Williams (kick failed); (P) Baldwin 10-pass from Williams (Pride run); (P) Raphael Alston 31-run (Maples kick); (O) Darien Clayton 4-run (pass failed)
Statistical leaders: Rushing (P) Pride 11-79, Alston 3-41, Toomer 3-12, Williams 3-10 (O) Moultrie 24-97, Massey 14-63, Jefferson 7-18; Passing (P) Williams 9-12, 154 yds., 3 tds. (O) Jefferson 1-3, 14 yds., 2 int.; Receiving (P) Baldwin 4-78, Deen 3- 50, Moore 2-26 (O) Massey 1-14, Myers 1-10.
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