Pinecrest Improves to 5-0
A couple of minor miracles just before halftime went a long way toward keeping Pinecrest among the ranks of the undefeated Friday night.
Leading 3-0 in the Homecoming Night football game, but facing the prospect of falling behind for the first time this season, the Patriots recovered a Western Harnett fumble at their own one yard line.
Not content to sit on the scant lead after the great escape, the Patriots drove 99 yards in the final minute of the half. Ben Williams capped the four-play excursion by throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to Raphael Alston as time expired.
Alston and Williams later combined for a 28-yard score as the Patriots moved to 5-0 with a 27-6 victory. Overall, Williams completed 14 of his 27 passes for 229 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Wide receiver James Baldwin also had a big night, catching seven passes for 116 yards.
The Eagles came into the contest with a record of 1-3, but soon showed why most of their games on a tough schedule have been close ones.
The only Patriot points of the first 23 minutes of the half came on a 28-yard field goal by Dillon Maples on the initial series of the game.
Two minutes before the halftime homecoming festivities were to begin, a 21-yard completion between Franklin Trapp and Paul Duggan gave the Eagles a first and goal at the three. On first down, Trapp carried the ball to the one. On the next play, Patriot safety Jyhe Utley came over the top to help stop him for no gain.
"When they got close to the goal line our whole defense started talking," Patriot nose tackle Blade Shoop said. "It was like a giant orchestra."
On third down, Shoop shot through and knocked the ball loose from the quarterback as he rolled to the right. Utley made his fifth fumble recovery of the season, giving the Pats the ball at the one with 50.8 seconds remaining in the half.
"It just opened up and I shot through," Shoop said. "I just tried to stay flat and fast like coach tells me. As he (Trapp) ran by, I smacked the ball and it popped out."
Now operating well within the shadow of its own goal, would the Patriot brain trust elect to count its blessings and run out the clock?
"We have some kids that are pretty explosive so that was not a thought," Patriot head coach Chris Metzger said.
Offensive coordinator Cameron Bennett and his quarterback were of the same mindset.
"I wasn't surprised because we needed some points real bad," Williams said. "We couldn't get anything going and we needed to shift the momentum."
Williams made a little room with a three-yard gain on first down.
"We had three time outs, so we thought why not," said Bennett who was receiving advice from coaches in the press box that they might be able to exploit the double coverage on Baldwin.
But, Williams went to his prime target on the next two plays. A 31-yard completion combined with a personal foul on the Eagles moved the ball to midfield. Then Baldwin took a short toss and made some moves that took him to the thirty five with 5.3 seconds remaining.
On the final play of the half, Baldwin cut toward the middle on a post pattern. Alston was left all alone running down the left sideline and hauled in the pass from Williams. The extra point conversion by Maples made it 10-0.
"I just had to concentrate on it all the time," Alston said of the catch. "All the time I put into receiving in practice helped in the game."
The Eagles seemed to suffer after affects from the shocking reversal of fortune. They didn't make a second half first down until four minutes into the fourth period.
A 24-yard field goal by Maples made it 13-0 at the end of three quarters. The second touchdown catch by Alston and a 4-yard run by Williams set up by the block of an Eagle punt by Raheem Hampton completed the Patriot scoring. With just over a minute remaining in the game, Caleb Chalmers put the visitors on the board with a 3-yard touchdown run.
For the second game in a row, the Patriot defense held its opponent to well under 100 yards on the ground (47 yards on 25 carries). Daniel Keith was credited with another of the three Patriot fumble recoveries and the Patriot offense was turnover free. The Patriots gained 130 yards over land on 32 rushes.
Pinecrest is on the road next week to meet a St. Paul's team that is 0-5 after a 54-0 loss to Gray's Creek Friday night.
Western Harnett 0 0 0 6 6
Pinecrest 3 7 3 14 27
Scoring (P) Dillon Maples 28-field goal; (P) Raphael Alston 35-pass from Ben Williams (Maples kick); (P) Maples 24-field goal; (P) Alston 28-pass from Williams (Maples kick); Williams 4-run (Maples kick); (W) Caleb Chalmers 3-run (pass failed).
Team stats: First downs (P) 17 (W) 11; Rushing (P) 32-130 (W) 25-47; Passing (P) 14-28, 229 yds., 2 tds. (W) 14-24, 171 yds.; Penalties (P) 11-95 (W) 7-75; Fumbles (P) 0-0 (W) 3-3; Punts (P) 3-36.7 (W) 4-36.8.
Individual stat leaders Rushing (P) Williams 7-38, Alston 7-38, Toomer 8-23 (W) McLean 12-35; Passing (P) Williams 14-27, 229 yds., 2 tds. (W) Trapp 11-17, 153 yds.; Receiving (P) Baldwin 7-116, Alston 2-63, Moore 2-25, Deen 2-23 (W) Chalmers 5-78, Duggan 4-39, Johnson 3-37.
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