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PREP FOOTBALL: Peachtree Academy falls in opener

SPARTA, Ga. — Despite a hard-fought effort, Peachtree Academy fell 22-14 to John Hancock on the road in both teams’ season opener Friday night. 

Several early miscues on both sides of the ball for the Panthers aided John Hancock in taking a 14-0 first half lead. The Panthers would respond in the second half, though,  as Zuriel Henry returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter for and 85-yard score. The Panthers made several defensive adjustments, containing the Rebels’ offense and keeping them scoreless through the third quarter. 

But in the fourth, Hancock was back at it again, using its first drive of the fourth quarter to find the end zone. Its two-point conversion attempt was denied. The Panthers clawed back into the game sparked by a 40-yard reception from Patrick Cartledge to Andrew Yount. 

Hunter Payne and Alex Hammer intercepted Hancock passes during the fourth quarter, keeping Peactree’s hopes alive. But the Panthers’ offense could not crack the scoreboard again. 

Hunter Payne finished the game with 12 carries for 46 yards and two catches for 20 yards, as well as a catch on a two-point conversion. Defensively, Payne registered 14 tackles and an interception.

Jacob Shelton contributed defensively for the Panthers with eight tackles, and beyond the kick returner for a touchdown, Henry also had 43 yards on five carries, and collected three tackles and a broken up pass on defense. 

Quarterback Patrick Cartledge finished 4-of-8 passing for 60 yards and a pick.  

The Panthers will travel to Nathanael Greene Friday at 7:30 p.m.