Patriots Run Win Streak to Four
With just over four minutes remaining in the first half, undefeated Pinecrest had squandered all of a 14-0 lead on two long touchdown strikes through the air by West Johnston.
The Patriot response was a seven play, 74-yard drive that ended in a spectacular 21-yard touchdown grab by James Baldwin on a pass from Ben Williams. Back in front 21-14, the defense blanked the visiting Wildcats the rest of the way. Dillon Maples kicked field goals of 23 and 37 yards in the fourth quarter to provide Friday night's 27-14 margin of victory.
The home team, now 4-0, rushed for 260 yards, including 130 on 15 carries by Bret Toomer. Defensive lineman Blade Shoop had a fumble recovery, and Hunter Ocheltree and Maples intercepted passes to extinguish the last three Wildcat possessions of the game.
"The conditioning paid off because our guys stayed very consistent and very focused," Patriot coach Chris Metzger said. "We had one breakdown. We said at halftime just forget about that and we made some adjustments. We were very fortunate to get out of here with a victory."
An Ocheltree recovery of a Wildcat fumble on the first series of the game set the early tone. A 25-yard run by Toomer was followed by a four-yard sneak by Williams for the touchdown. The next time the Patriots had the ball, a 44-yard gain by Damion Pride led to an eight yard scoring dash by Toomer.
"We ran into quite a storm to start with," West Johnston coach Bennett Jones said. "They came out with a lot more intensity than we did. But I was proud of the way our guys responded."
In the final seconds of the first period, the Cats' Ray Harrington got behind the Patriot defense for a 50-yard touchdown pass from Chris Ferguson. With just over four minutes left in the half, highly recruited running back C.J. Frederick took a short toss from his quarterback and turned it into a 36-yard score.
The conversion kick made it a 14-14 game.
The Patriots stormed right back. Completions by Williams of six, 39 and two yards to Kyle Ocheltree ate up most of the yardage. With 1:48 left in the half, a closely covered Baldwin went high to grab a Williams pass in the left corner of the end zone. Another conversion kick by Maples made it 21-14.
"I thought the touchdown just before halftime was huge," Jones said. "We had good coverage and that was just a player making a play. I thought that gave them a lot of momentum."
So did the response by the Patriot defense after the ensuing kickoff. Defensive lineman Daniel Keith burst through the Wildcat line to sack Ferguson for a 14-yard loss on first down. On the next snap, Travis Scales shot through from his outside linebacker spot to nail the quarterback for a 10-yard loss.
Metzger called the sacks huge plays in the game. He described Keith as a player with a great motor.
"It's just flying to the ball and being a defensive player," Keith said.
The only sustained drive by either team in the second half took the Patriots from their own 12 yard line to the Wildcat red zone. From there, Maples kicked a 23-yard field goal with three minutes gone in the fourth period. Another three points by Maples coupled with the Shoop recovery and the two interceptions sewed up the win for the 17th ranked Patriots.
"I thought it was a well-played game," Jones said after his team fell to 1-3. "We both got after it. It was their night."
Pinecrest is at home again next week against a Western Harnett team that is also 1-3. It will be Homecoming Night for the Patriots.
For more on Friday's game go to www.thepilot.com.
West Johnston 7 7 0 0 14
Pinecrest 14 7 0 6 27
Scoring (P) Ben Williams 4-run (Dillon Maples kick); (P) Bret Toomer 8-run (Maples kick); (W) Ray Harrington 50-pass from Chris Ferguson (Gustavo Gonzalez kick); C.J. Frederick 36-pass from Ferguson (Gonzalez kick); (P) James Baldwin 21-pass from Williams (Maples kick); (P) Maples FG-23; (P) Maples FG-37.
Team stats: First downs (P) 16 (W) 11; Rushing (P) 46-260 (W) 25-68; Passing (P) 6-14, 94 yds., td. int. (W) 11-19, 184 yds, 2 tds., 2 ints.; Penalties - (P) 11-95 (W) 9-95; Fumbles (P) 1-0 (W) 2-2; Punts (P) 2-43.0 (W) 2-18.0.
Individual stats: Rushing (P) Toomer 15-130, Damion Pride 9-65, Damien Decatur 10-33, Williams 10-23, Raphael Alston 2-9 (W) Frederick 12-31, Dashawn Ray 5-29, Ferguson 8-8; Passing (P) Williams 6-14, 94 yds., td., int. (W) Ferguson 11-19, 184 yds. 2 tds. 2 ints.; Receiving (P) Kyle Ocheltree 3-47, Baldwin 1-21, Toomer 1-14, Darian Harris 1-12 (W) Frederick 3-72, Tre Clements 4-28, Harrington 2-66, Ray 1-9, Tyruss Colton 1-9.
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