Leesville traveled to Southern Pines Friday night to face off against the Pinecrest Patriots in the first round of the 4AA playoffs.
The Pride fought and battled throughout the game, but it wasn’t enough as Pinecrest defeated Leesville 41-21.
The story of this game was turnovers, especially in the first half. The Pride struggled to hold on to the ball, whether they fumbled or Pinecrest intercepted it. Leesville turned the ball over three times in the first quarter of the game, affecting the outcome of the game.
The game did not start off well for the Pride, as Nik Pry, Pinecrest quarterback, threw a pass to TJ Gaddy for an 80-yard touchdown only eleven seconds into the game. Leesville had the ball after a kickoff, but the Patriot defense forced a quick three-and-out. After a failed Pinecrest drive, the Patriots muffed a punt and Leesville recovered; Pinecrest forced another three-and-out.
After the Pride’s defense stopped the Pinecrest wishbone option offense attack, the Patriots intercepted Vince Amendola and took it to the end zone for a pick-six. This gave Pinecrest an early 14-0 lead with 5:50 left in the first quarter. Leesville drove down the field and caught a break with a pass interference call on the Patriots. The next play, Amendola found Landon Choboy open down field for a 10-yard pass and he looked to be down, but the officials ruled it was a fumble — Pinecrest took over own their own 35-yard line.
The Patriots moved down the field and on fourth and one from the one yard line Malyke Justice ran through the Pride defense for the touchdown, making it 21-0 Pinecrest with under a minute to go in the first quarter.
On the next play following the kickoff Amendola handed it off to Cole Coleman, but was stripped of the ball. Shymeik Reeves recovered the ball and ran it back for another Patriot touchdown. The Patriots took a 28-0 lead with 40 seconds left in the first quarter.
Leesville took over and moved the ball well into Pinecrest territory, but on fourth down the Patriot defense broke up Amendola’s pass to force a turnover on downs.
On this possession for Pinecrest, Leesville’s defense stepped up with Matt Melvin sacking Pry and forcing a punt. The Pride got the ball back, but was stopped on third down and forced to punt. Bobby Haggerty punted it all the way down to the Pinecrest four-yard line.
On the ensuing play Devonte Terry picked off Pry to give Leesville the ball on the Pinecrest 36-yard line. Choboy ran it in from eight-yard line for a Pride touchdown giving them a 28-7 lead with 5:04 left in the second quarter. After a 51-yard field goal attempt missed by Pinecrest, they lead at the half 28-7.
Leesville started off the second half with the ball and found the endzone on a run by Choboy to keep them within 14 points of Pinecrest.
Pinecrest option attack was simply too much for Leesville to handle in the end. The Patriots added two more touchdowns in the second half to defeat the Pride 41-21.
Leesville ends the season with a 6-6 record, 4-3 conference record, respectively. Overall, the Pride played a good season and overcame some adversity. Although many seniors on the team will be leaving this year, the Pride will be returning with good players and hopes to improve next year.