Patriot Jayvees Do It Again
Pinecrest coaches borrowed an ancient baseball axiom to make the decision that led to the junior varsity football team’s second thrilling victory in a row at Overhills Thursday evening.
“You go for the tie at home and the win on the road,” Patriot coach Ben Hammer said after a two-point conversion run with 2:35 left in the game by Chance Castillo stood up for a 21-20 victory.
Winners of a five-overtime game last week against Jack Britt, the Patriots again had to comeback from a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter. Two holds by the defense, and a pair of punt returns by Castillo that give the offense starts in Jaguar territory, set things up.
Quarterback Michael Jacobs completed a key pass in each drive and finished both off with short touchdown runs.
Bouncing back from a first half that produced only three first downs and 78 total yards, the Patriot offense finished with 241 yards rushing and moved the stakes a total of 17 times. Castillo carried the ball 12 times for 111 yards. Troy Roper picked up 70 on 15 attempts and Chris Collins ran for 44 on eight tries.
The Patriots were fortunate to be trailing only 14-0 at the half after fumbling the ball away twice while the Jaguar offense was enjoying success on the ground and through the air.
Patriot nose tackle Cody Bender, who shook off a first-half injury, was asked to explain the turn around on both sides of the ball after the intermission.
“We stepped up our game,” he said. “We treated it like this was our home and we wanted to defend it.”
According to Patriot coach Antwon Murchison, the defense keyed on Jag tight end Marquis Marshall in the second half with linebacker Caleb Hendrix assigned the main responsibility.
“He was their main go-to guy and it worked for us,” Murchison said.
When the Patriots got the ball first to begin the third quarter, Roper ripped off 14 yards to get the ball in Jaguar territory. Collins then barreled for 18 before Castillo took it the final 18 yards off right tackle for the touchdown. The conversion by Joe Lewis made it 14-7.
“We had like three fumbles in the first half and I was hanging my head,” said Jacobs, who played wide receiver last week while Bradley Black (called up to the varsity) was doing the signal calling. “The offensive line started making blocks and our running backs ran the ball really well. Manny Brown and Cameron Brown made some great catches.”
In the only lapse of the half by the Patriot defense, the home team answered with a 74-yard drive in just five plays to make it 20-7. After the kickoff, the Patriot trio of backs ate up big chunks of yardage again behind a revitalized offensive line only to have the drive end on downs at the Overhills 19.
Desperately needing a stop, the Patriot defense forced a three and out. A 25-yard punt return by Castillo gave the Pats a start at the Jag 38 with 10:53 remaining in the game.
The big play in the next scoring drive was a 24-yard completion on a fade route to Manny Brown for a first down at the 12. Three plays later, Jacobs scored from the two. The conversion kick failed and it remained 20-13.
Another three and out by the defense, and a 15-yard punt return by Castillo this time, gave the Patriots the ball at the visitor 45 with 5:41 left to play. The big gainer in the decisive series of the evening was a 25-yard connection threaded through traffic down the middle of the field from Jacobs to Cameron Brown to the 10.
Collins picked up four and Castillo three before Jacobs fought his way into the end zone, making it 20-19 at the 2:25 mark. A time out was called to relay the decision to the players that they would be going for two.
“Once we got the call, it was very scary,” Castillo said. “I was depending on Thomas Lehto to make the block on the right side and he did. I put my shoulders down and got it in there.”
The Patriots thought they had the ball right back when Gavin Brunner recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, but was ruled out of bounds. A long first down pass by the Jags was incomplete. On the next play Bender stopped the ball carrier for a two-yard loss.
Moments later, a fourth down pass fell incomplete. Jacobs took a knee three times and the clock expired.
For Castillo, the second comeback victory in a row enforced an important coaching point.
“I think it pays off how hard our offense and defense works in practice,” he said. “We lasted longer.”
The Patriots are back home next Thursday against Cox Mill. Bender noted the team’s different start from a year ago when it was 0-2, including a 12-0 loss to Overhills.
“We’re bringing back our team,” he said. “We’re bringing back Pinecrest’s name.”
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