Pats Throw Scare Into Bucs
Jack Britt fumbled the opening kickoff of the new football season to the delight of a huge crowd of Pinecrest fans at the John Williams Athletic Complex Friday night.
The Patriots’ James Harrison made the hit and D.J. Simpson recovered the ball. A 24-yard gain on a pass from quarterback Travis Scales to Steven Kennedy advanced the ball to the Buccaneer five. Two carries by Scales put the ball in the end zone and Jackson Maples’ conversion made it 7-0.
The Patriots invaded the Buccaneer red zone three more times in the first half, but came up empty each time. The mistakes that snuffed out those opportunities coupled with a pair of long bombs from Buc quarterback Mark McRae to wide receiver Kenny Jenkins added up to a 28-14 Patriot loss.
“Four fumbles, one bad pitch and two key penalties — you can’t do that against a team like Jack Britt,” Pinecrest coach Chris Metzger said afterward. “We left 21 points on the board. We’re proud of the kids’ effort, but not the result, because you come out to win.”
The second time the Patriots had the ball, a 31-yard scamper by Scales was good for a first down at the Buc 15. The drive stalled at the 12 and Maples’ 29-yard field goal attempt was wide.
On the next Buc possession, McRae went over the top for an 81-yard scoring strike to Jenkins. The conversion by Ricardo Vargas tied the game at 7-7. Early in the second period, the Patriots mixed the pass and run, including a 14-yard gain by Zach Strickland to get a first-and-goal at the two. But, on the first play, Strickland was stopped for no gain and then lost the ball stretching for the goal line. The ball was recovered by one of the Bucs in the end zone.
Limited to just one first down at this point by the Patriot defense, the visitors then chewed up 80 yards in nine plays to take a 14-7 lead on a three-yard run by McRae with just over seven minutes remaining in the half.
After an exchange of punts, the Patriots made a strong bid to knot things up before the intermission. They were a bit unlucky in the process.
The Pats appeared to have scored on a 28-yard pass from Scales to Traivon Williams with 8.3 seconds remaining, but the points were erased by an illegal procedure penalty. On the next snap, Scales connected with tight end Mike Johnson for 24 yards to the four, but they were out of time outs and the clock expired before a field goal attempt could be made.
The Patriot offense, now coordinated by Metzger, showed more wrinkles than have been seen in some time. Buc coach Richard Bailey said that it kept his squad on its heels.
“Pinecrest did some things we had never seen in past years or on the film we had access to,” he said. “Obviously they did a good job game-planning for this game.
“Pinecrest controlled the football game. If not for a few breaks we got with the turnovers, it really could have snowballed on us. We were very fortunate to get the fumble in the end zone.”
Scales gained 15 yards on a carry on the first series of the second half before fumbling the ball away at the Buc 27. A personal foul gave the visitor’s 15 more yards. McRae then put the ball up in the air again for Jenkins, who made a sensational one-handed catch at the Patriot 11-yard line for a 59-yard gain. Two plays later McRae took it in from the two and it was 21-7.
“Was that not unbelievable?,” Bailey said of the grab by Jenkins, who finished with three catches for 154 yards. “It’s not a high percentage play, but when it comes off it’s a big one.”
With the Patriots trailing 28-7 midway through the fourth period, a 25-yard gain by Dwayne Simpson helped set up a two-yard sneak by Scales. The conversion by Maples made it 28-14. The Bucs then ran out the final 6:52 of the game.
Both teams finished with 19 first downs. The Bucs held a 376 to 335 edge in net yards. The Pats turned the ball over three times to once for the Bucs.
Scales completed nine of 13 passes for 118 yards and picked up 85 net yards in 23 attempts on the ground. Dwayne Simpson gained 86 on eight carries. The leading rusher was the Bucs’ Lindon Watkins with 128 yards on 22 carries.
Harrison, the Patriots’ junior nose guard, injured a knee on the first play of the game and was unable to return.
“He’s going to have an MRI in the morning,” Metzger said. “It’s definitely tough to lose an all-state kid and a leader, mentally and physically.”
Next Friday the Patriots travel to Overhills. The Jaguars were defeated 41-6 by E.E. Smith Friday night.
Jack Britt 7 7 7 7 — 28
Pinecrest 7 0 0 7 — 14
Scoring: (P) Scales 3 –run (Maples kick); (JB) Jenkins 81-pass from McRae (Vargas kick); (JB) McRae 3-run (Vargas kick); (JB) Watkins 5-run (Vargas kick): (P) Scales 2-run (Maples kick).
Team stats: First downs (P) 19 (J) 19; Rushing (P) 42-217 (J) 42-211; Passing (P) 9-13, 118 yds. (JB) 4-11, 165 yds., TD; Fumbles (P) 4-3 (JB 1-1; Penalties (P) 8-50 (JB) 4-40; Punts (P) 3-32.7 (JB) 5 33.2.
Individual stat leaders: Rushing (P) Dwayne Simpson 8-86, Scales 23-85, Strickland 7-34 (JB) Watkins 22-128, McRae 11-20, McMillan 4-21; Passing (P) Scales 9-13, 118 yds. (JB) McRae 4-11, 165 yds, TD; Receiving (P) Kennedy 3-43, White 3- 39, Johnson 2-31 (JB) Jenkins 3-154.
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