Lumberton Tops Pinecrest
Pinecrest climbed to within three points of overcoming a 16-0 deficit before falling 30-20 to visiting Lumberton in Friday night’s conference football opener for both teams.
A Kyle Ocheltree touchdown and two-point conversion run brought the Patriots to within 23-20 with 10:52 to remaining in the game. But Kendrick McGill got the points right back for the Pirates (6-1, 1-0) when he returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. The Patriots take a 6-1 overall record into next Friday night’s home game against Scotland County. The Scots (5-2) defeated Purnell Swett 28-14 in their Southeastern Conference opener.
The homecoming night crowd grew very quiet after the Patriots spent the first quarter and a half digging a deep hole started by a special teams snafu.
Dillon Maples appeared ready to receive the long snap and punt the ball away, ending the Patriots’ first offensive series of the night. But the ball went to the short man in the backfield, Dannie Monroe, who ran with it as if it was a fake and came up about 10 yards short of a first down on a 4th and 18 play.
“The fake punt wasn’t called, but was somehow communicated,” Patriot coach Chris Metzger explained later.
The Pirates took advantage of the short field opportunity. Larry Parker capped a 56-yard drive in seven plays with a one-yard scoring run. On the visitor’s next two possessions, Connor Haskins kicked a 41-yard field goal before sophomore quarterback Marquez North turned the corner on the Patriot defense for a 71-yard touchdown run that made it 16-0 with 6:30 remaining in the second quarter.
Based upon its first three possessions, the Patriot offense showed little inkling of an ability to overcome that kind of a deficit. But starting from the 20 after the kickoff, Damion Pride went nine yards on the second play for the Patriots’ third first down of the half. On the next snap, he was caught and surrounded by Pirates deep in the backfield before tearing himself free and going 69 yards for a touchdown. The run for two points failed and it was 16-6.
Inside the last minute of the half, the Pirate offense was at midfield trying to beat the clock and put more points on the board. Patriot linebacker David Smith stepped in front of a North pass in the right flat and returned the ball to the Pirate 32 with 30.4 seconds remaining.
A pass reception by Damari McPhaul and a pass interference penalty put the ball at the 12. On third down, Ocheltree’s perfect throw to Raphael Alston in the right corner of the end zone made it 16-12. The extra point try by Maples was missed after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty set the Patriots back 15 yards.
Midway through the third period, a 17-yard touchdown run by Larry Parker and the conversion by Haskins extended the Pirate lead to 23-12. Early in the fourth, the Patriots put together one of their best drives of the season and challenged again.
Starting from their own 17 after a Haskin’s punt, a 24-yard scamper by Ocheltree on the fourth play put the Pats at the Pirate 25. A burst up the middle by Bryan Van Cleave took the ball to the one. That set up the touchdown and two-point conversion runs by Ocheltree that made it 23-20.
The Patriot running game that was ineffective early was now chewing up the yards on the way to a 276 yard total.
“They did a great job and our kids just got really tired,” Pirate coach Mike Brill said. “And we quit reading like we’re supposed to.”
Then followed another of one of the mistakes Metzger felt contributed to his team’s downfall. With Maples kicking off from midfield because of a penalty assessed against the visitors, the Patriots opted to go for the pop-up kick that almost produced a turnover in the first half. McGill fielded it on the 10 and took it the distance.
“Obviously it backfired,” the Patriot coach said. “If we recover it, we’re geniuses. We thought it was there and their guy made a great play.”
Ocheltree led his team right back down the field with plenty of time left on the clock, but lost the ball on a fumble at the Lumberton 25 with 7:10 left in the game.
The contest was almost a statistical standoff. The Patriots finished with 318 total yards to 329 for the Pirates. Pride went over the century mark in yards gained rushing for the fourth time this season, finishing with a 150 on 16 carries. Most of Ocheltree’s 93 yards on 20 carries came after the intermission. North led the Pirates with 149 yards on 10 attempts.
The outcome came down to the home team making a few mistakes too many.
“When you play top tier teams in this state you can’t have those mistakes,” Metzger said, referring to two second half fumbles, an interception and the breakdowns on special teams.
Nevertheless, Smith was able to find some positives for his team.
“We know we can play with the best teams and we’re going to prove next week that we are the best team,” he said.
Senior Mary Allison Bennett was announced as the Homecoming Queen during the halftime celebration. Her court included Senior Princess Uniqwa Morrison, Junior Princess Graecie Vrchota, Sopho-more Princess Juventina Leon and Freshman Princess Madison Currier.
Contact Charlie Berg-mann at email@example.com. com.
Lumberton 6 10 7 7 30
Pinecrest 0 12 0 8 20
Scoring: (L) Parker 1-run (kick failed); (L) Haskins 41-field goal; North 71-run (Haskins kick); (P) Pride 69-run (run failed); R. Alston 13-pass from K. Ocheltree (kick failed); (L) Parker 17-run (Haskins kick); (P) K. Ocheltree 1-run (Ocheltree run); (L) McGill 90 kickoff return (Haskins kick).
Team stats – First downs – (L) 18 (P) 17; Rushing – (L) 40-269 (P) 42-276; Passing – (L) 8-10, 60 yds., int. (P) 6-18, 42 yds., td., int.; Penalties – (L) 11-85 (P) 7-62; Fumbles – (L) 3-0 (P) 4-2; Punts – (L) 3-32.3 (P) 3-34.0.
Individual stat leaders – Rushing – (L) North 10-149, Parker 17-66, McGill 9-44, Kennedy 2-14; (P) Pride 16-150, K. Ocheltree 20-93, Van Cleave 1-24, R.Alston 5-5; Passing – (L) North 8-9, 60 yds., int. (P) K.Ocheltree 6-18, 42 yds., td., int.; Receiving – (L) Parker 2-44, Davis 2-19 (P) Johnson 1-15, R. Alston 1-13, McPhaul 1-10.
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