The Pinecrest football team made the school’s 50th anniversary homecoming game Friday night a memorable one.

Scoring in all aspects of the game, the Patriots pummeled Purnell Swett 45-0. The defense held the Rams to a meager 66 yards for the game, while the Patriot offense rolled up 388 yards.

Head coach Chris Metzger said this was a special night for the school with all of the alumni on hand. Graduates paraded around the field on the track, grouped by decades, before kickoff.

“You get goosebumps seeing those guys walking around the track and you think about the great tradition that has been built here,” Metzger said after the game. “It was great that our kids were able to honor them tonight. We’re excited. It was a great night to be a Patriot.”

During halftime festivities, seniors Shahoda Kelly and Nick Boulanger were crowned homecoming queen and king. Boulanger is a running back on the football team. 

Metzger said this was also an opportunity for his players to put last week’s first loss of the season at Richmond Senior behind them.

“The kids had a bad taste in their mouth,” he said. “The kids played great in all three phases and we scored in all three phases. We had a lot of big plays. But we still have more work to do to get better. We need to be a little more consistent.”

The Pinecrest defense struck first, with senior Jacob Lawson scooping up a blocked field goal by T.J. Gaddy and running it back 68 yards for a touchdown with 5:36 left in the opening quarter.

Pinecrest pulled out a successful trick play from the Seventy-First win two weeks ago for its second score of the night. Quarterback Ben Garbark tossed the ball to tight end Braxton Barber, who is also a backup quarterback, who then hit Clint McNeill on a 43-yard touchdown pass play to extend the lead to 14-0 less than a minute into the second quarter.

Pinecrest forced a Rams’ fumble, recovered by junior linebacker Nick Garbark, on the first play of its next drive. And the Patriots struck quickly, with Ben Garbark hitting senior Zyheem Kelly in the end zone on a 31-yard touchdown pass less than 30 seconds later to make it 21-0.

Junior placekicker Jeff Yurk hit a 36-yard field goal to make 24-0 with 7:23 left in the first half.

Ben Garbark capped the Patriots’ final drive of the half with a two-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds left to extend the lead to 31-0.

Pinecrest held the Rams to just 15 net yards in the first half, according to statistics from Moore Sports Radio.

Pinecrest tacked on two more touchdowns in the third quarter. Savion Kizer hit the end zone on a 2-yard run with 8:32 left in the quarter, and Raequan Harrington scored on an 8-yard run, dragging several defenders, with about a minute left in the quarter.

Metzger used a number of reserve players in the second half, getting them some valuable game action.

“We played a lot of kids tonight,” he said. “That depth is important.”

For the night, Pinecrest had 285 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, and 103 yards and two touchdowns through the air. The defense held Purnell Swett to a mere 12 net yards of rushing and just 54 passing.

Ben Garbark was the leading rusher, carrying the ball eight times for 82 yards and a touchdown. Kizer had five carries for 54 yards and a touchdown while Harrington had four carries for 48 yards and a touchdown. Nicholas Marella also has seven carries for 41 yards.

McNeill led the way in receiving with two catches for 60 yards and a touchdown, while Kelly had one catch for the 31-yard touchdown.

Metzger said he was pleased with his team’s balanced attack and the fact that so many kids contributed.

He said this was a great win for the team, but now the focus will be on preparing for next Friday’s home game against Lumberton. The winless Pirates fell to Seventy-First 42-0 Friday night.

“There is still a long way to go with some big games ahead of us,” Metzger said. “We play in a great conference. We still have some work to do to keep getting better.”

Contact David Sinclair at (910) 693-2462 or dsinclair@thepilot.com.

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