COVINGTON, GA - Peachtree Academy’s woes continued Friday as the Panthers fell to the Pinecrest Academy Paladins on Homecoming Night, 26-15.
The Paladins opened the game with a 57-yard touchdown run by Alex Jeffords, who was seriously injured on the play and had to be carted off the field and left the stadium via ambulance.
Peachtree Academy fumbled on the ensuing possession, and the Paladins would strike immediately, making it 12-0 with 7:30 left in the first quarter.
Pinecrest Academy scoring early and often has been a theme this season, as they beat their previous two opponents by a combined score of 92. Those two early scores would prove to be the difference-makers as the game went on.
“We are struggling to start a ball game,” Panther head coach Jim Eidson said after the game. “We dig ourselves a hole, and we do fairly well digging up, but we have to find a way to dig completely out.”
That score would hold through the end of the first quarter, as the Panthers' offensive line struggled against Pinecrest’s front seven.
David Osborne ended Peachtree’s scoring drought with a field goal at 6:19 remaining in the second quarter, cutting the Paladin lead to nine. However, Pinecrest’s David Balthaser would connect with Oscar Lynch on a reverse-pass play and push the lead up to 17 on the next drive.
Panthers quarterback Dakota Boeckman returned the ensuing kickoff to the Paladin 29 yard-line and proceeded to drive their offense the rest of the way. He capped it off with a 4-yard touchdown with 1:14 left before halftime, making the score 20-9 in favor of the Paladins.
Peachtree crushed the Paladins’ attempt to strike before halftime, intercepting Pinecrest quarterback Breckin Barbee with under five seconds remaining.
The third quarter was quiet until Dakota Boeckman connected with Jacob Carter for a 2-yard passing touchdown, shortening the Paladins lead, 20-15.
The Panthers followed that touchdown by recovering a Pinecrest botched snap but were unable to put points on the board as the game entered the fourth quarter.
Pinecrest quarterback Breckin Barbee connected with Oscar Lynch again, this time for a 30-yard touchdown, pushing the Paladin lead to 26-15 with 6:11 remaining in regulation.
Peachtree Academy did not score for the remainder of the game, falling 26-15.
Coach Eidson still had high praise for his team, even after dropping their third-straight game.
“I really think we have a team that can play with anybody,” Eidson said. “We are just very young and have to start making more mature decisions.”
While anything can happen in sports, the loss does shrink the chances of Peachtree bringing home a third-straight state championship in 2020.
The Panthers, who fall to 2-3 on the season, look to end their three-game losing skid next Friday on the road against the Covenant Christian Academy Cougars.