Scuffle Mars Pats Win Over Vikes (Update)
The 10th annual Battle of the Pines football game will probably not be remembered for the pulverizing ground game that powered Pinecrest to a 69-14 victory over Union Pines Friday night.
Damion Pride scored three of his four touchdowns during an explosive 35-point first quarter spree for the Patriots (2-0) that essentially determined the outcome. Three early Viking turnovers and a recovered onside kick by the home team may have helped fuel the tension for the ugliness that followed.
The Viking touchdowns came on connections of 14 and 64 yards between quarterback Taylor O’Neil and wide receiver Zak Rodriguez.
Late in the second quarter before an estimated 5,000 fans at the John Williams Athletic Complex, the Patriots’ Bryan Van Cleave scored on a two-yard run. He then ran for a two-point conversion, giving the home team a 49-7 lead.
A scuffle between players broke out at midfield following the ensuing kickoff by Dillon Maples that landed beyond the end zone for a touchback. There were many more than the allowable 11 players a side on the field before law enforcement officers helped restore order.
Game officials handed out ejections to three players from each side before play resumed about 15 minutes later.
“In retrospect, we should not have gone for two at that point in the game,” Patriot coach Chris Metzger said, referring to the two-point conversion. “That’s me and we should not have done it.
“What’s disappointing is that we had 7-on-7 together all summer and had great competition. We love their kids and they’re first class. Their kids and our kids have grown up together. It’s a shame it happened.”
Things could not have started worse for a Viking squad (1-1) that defeated Red Springs 27-7 last week in its season opener.
Pride went 21 yards for a touchdown to cap the first series of the game. Then on the Vikings’ second play from scrimmage, Julius Steele recovered a fumble by the Vikings’ John McMillan after a 15-yard gain. The next time the Vikings had the ball, Adam McDuffie made another fumble recovery for the Patriots, again on the second play.
The fifth touchdown of the first quarter was set up by the recovery of a lateral pass from O’Neil by the Patriots’ Dylan Gaffney. Quarterback Travis Scales and the Patriot corps of running backs chewed up 314 yards on the ground as the Patriots increased their advantage to 55-14 by halftime.
“Ball security is something we stress all the time,” Viking coach Ryan Riggan said. “Last week we played a turnover-free game. It really kills you when it happens and it bit us bad tonight. It’s the nature of this game, block, tackle and ball security. You do those things and you generally have a chance to win. We didn’t do them very well tonight.”
Taking the place of the injured Jerod McKenzie, right tackle Brett Heimrich was the only senior on the all new offensive line of the Patriots that has performed so well in the first two games. He was joined in the starting unit by juniors Mitch Monska, Steve Pollard, Octavius Rouse and Bryce Kennedy.
“We knew exactly what they were going to line up in so practice pays off,” Heimrich said. “Our running backs are real smart guys. We trust in them and they trust in us.”
Scales, Pride and Ralphael Alston each rushed for over 100 yards in the game. Alston and Scales both scored a pair of touchdowns. The Patriots completed only two of five passes for 10 yards, but rushed for 453 on 54 attempts.
“They just fired off the ball and we did our job,” said Alston who scored one of his touchdowns on an 85-yard kickoff return. “That’s why it happened the way it did.”
Union Pines accounted for almost half of its 191 total yards on the two gorgeous touchdown throws from O’Neil to Rodriguez. The Viking quarterback went 9-for-19 for 112 yards overall.
“It is what it is,” O’Neil said. “We go out and try to execute, but Pinecrest is a good team. We gave it our best. We’re going to put this game behind us. As long as everyone learns a lesson from what happened tonight, it’s all good.”
The Patriots were penalized 13 times for 150 yards to six for 58 for the visitors. The onside kick was recovered by Steele. Inside linebacker David Smith intercepted a pass and William Calloway was credited with the Pats’ fourth fumble recovery of the night. Tommy Messina of the Vikings covered one of the two fumbles the Patriots lost.
Pinecrest has now won the last three meetings between the teams by a combined score of 157-24. It has a 9-1 edge in the series that was renewed in 2001.
Riggan, in his second year as the Viking head coach, and several of his assistants were members of Metzger’s staff at Pinecrest before moving over to Union Pines.
“A lot of these guys I coached and worked with in the weight room when I was here,” Riggan said. “I love the kids. I think they’re great guys.
“I think both sides’ emotions run high. You have them playing to the whistle and a little after the whistle both ways. When that happens, the officials have to get it under control real fast. I like the emotion, just more positive.
“We’ve got Chatham Central next week. We have to get better soon.”
Pinecrest is scheduled to entertain Overhills. The Pats and Vikes will go into Friday’s games minus the players serving one-game suspensions.
UP 0 14 0 0 14
P’crest 35 20 14 0 69
Scoring – (P) Pride 21-run (Maples kick); (P) Pride 10-run (Maples kick); (P) Pride 7-run (Maples kick); (P) Scales 15-run (Maples kick); (P) Scales 1-run (Maples kick); (U) Z. Rodriguez 14-pass from O’Neil; (P) R. Alston 26-run (pass failed); (P) Van Cleave 2-run (Van Cleave run); (U) Z. Rodriguez 64-pass from O’Neil; (P) R. Alston 85-kickoff return (kick failed); (P) Pride 1-run (Brock kick); (P) K. Ocheltree 1-run (Brock kick).
Team stats – First downs – (U) 12 (P) 21; Rushing (U) 21-79 (P) 54-453; Passing (U) 9-19, 112 yds., int., 2 TDs (P) 2-5, 10 yds.; Penalties – (U) 6-58 (P) 13-150; Fumbles – (U) 4-4 (P) 5-2.
Individual stat leaders – Rushing – (U) Ring 4-31, McMillan 4-22, Ritter 8-22 (P) Scales 11-110, R. Alston 9-109, Pride 15-108, Van Cleave 5-47, K. Ocheltree 5-40, Strickland 2-30; Passing – (U) O’Neil 9-19, 112 yds., int., 2 TDs. (P) Scales 2-5, 10 yds.; Receiving – (U) Z. Rodriguez 3-85, Ritter 2-12 (P) Smith 1-6.
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