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Late surge lifts Pinecrest past Lakeview, 30-20
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The Blitz, complete high school coverage

Pinecrest Academy scored 13 points in the final 2:17 Friday night to defeat Lakeview Academy 30-20.

Trailing 20-17 with 2:17 to play, Paladins quarterback Jimmy Strom hit a pass to Zach Guard for a 43-yard score that put them up for good at 24-20.

Three plays later, Pinecrest put the game away when Alex Brenner intercepted Lakeview’s Ted Reynolds and returned the ball to the Lions’ 3-yard line. Strom ran in on the next play to give the Paladins the final score and a 30-20 win.

“We gotta evaluate what went wrong and improve,” Lakeview coach Matthew Gruhn said. “Our guys fought the whole game, but they played a great game. That’s a good team that kept fighting, and they deserved to win.”

Pinecrest jumped out first, scoring on its second drive of the game. Following a Lakeview fumble, the Paladins’ offense faced a third-and-8 on the Lakeview 30-yard line when Christopher Birozes completed a halfback pass to Zach Guard (84 yards receiving, 2 TD) for a touchdown with 11:34 left in the second quarter.

Lakeview answered on its next drive with a 13-yard run by Caleb Faulkner (43 yards rushing, TD) to tie the game at 7-7 with 8:22 left in the first half.

Lakeview took a 14-7 lead with a score just 35.4 seconds before halftime. With the Lions’ offense facing a fourth-and-10 at the Paladins’ 25-yard line, Reynolds (134 yards rushing, 157 yards passing, 2 TD) completed a pass to Trevor Price (83 yards rushing, 50 yards receiving, one TD) for the score.

“This is the kind of a game where you learn to fight with your backs against a wall,” Pinecrest coach Todd Winter said. “They are a great team, played us tough all night, but our guys just kept fighting and made some big plays at the end of the game to win.”

Pinecrest opened the second half with the ball and drove to the Lakeview 19, where Birozes hit a 36-yard field goal to cut the Lions’ lead to 14-10 with 5:44 left in the third quarter.

With Lakeview still leading early in the fourth quarter, it was the Paladins’ special teams that came through.

Pinecrest was punting with 9:46 to go in the game when Birozes hit a nearly 60-yard punt that pushed the Lions return man inside his 5-yard line. Jacob Hanley and others forced a fumble which Hanley recovered at the Lakeview 2-yard line.

Two plays later, Strom took it in from 1 yard out to give Pinecrest a 17-14 lead with 9:03 to play.

Pinecrest had a chance to put the game away when two plays later Hanley intercepted Reynolds and set the Paladins’ offense up at the Lakeview 46-yard line. Pinecrest failed to score and Lakeview got the ball back inside its own 10-yard line.

It only took Lakeview two plays to make the Paladins pay when Reynolds went around the left side for a 94-yard touchdown run. This gave the Lions a 20-17, after a missed extra point, lead with 4:41 left in the game.

The final 4:41 belonged to the Paladins, though, and the fifth Lakeview turnover of the night proved to be the killer as it gave Strom his second touchdown in three series, all started by Lions turnovers.

“Our kids never surrendered,” Winter said. “When you win a game like this it tells you that no matter what you can come back.”

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