Pine Lake Prep squeezed out a 20-14 overtime win over Lake Norman Charter Friday.
The Pride offense didn’t score in the second half, but Zach Morlidge led a strong Pride defense to preserve the win.
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Pine Lake Prep committed to stopping the run by cramming the tackle box and leaving its corners in single coverage. The Pride tackled well and placed strong pressure on Knight quarterback Jeff Womack. And though the Pride defensive backs forced most passes to fall incomplete, the two long passes Womack completed were the Knights’ two touchdowns.
Morlidge was able to utilize his power running up the middle for some significant gains. But Lake Norman Charter limited Pine Lake Prep’s offense with a ferocious pass rush, and though Nick Reid’s mobility enabled him to escape some tackles and make throws on the run, it also resulted in deeper sacks.
Morlidge’s 20-yard run up the middle brought Pine Lake Prep within the Lake Norman Charter 30-yard line. And after Sam Cornacchione took the ball to the 3-yard line on a wide receiver screen, Morlidge capped the drive with a touchdown run.
Hunter Adams sparked Lake Norman Charter’s initial second-quarter drive taking an end around 21 yards. Womack followed by lofting a pass to Andrew Rinehardt on a fly route to score a 34-yard touchdown and tie the score.
With time winding down in the first half, Nick Murphy snuck through a pair of Knights on a run off right tackle putting Pine Lake Prep in the red zone. Morlidge took a direct snap and ran for a first down setting up first-and-goal. Then rolling left, Reid dodged a pass rusher and found Cornacchione for a touchdown to take a 14-6 halftime lead.
Pine Lake Prep’s defense maintained the Pride lead through the third quarter. Knight receiver Jared Ryan caught a pass over the middle, and Womack escaped the pocket for a 25-yard gain advancing the ball inside the Pine Lake Prep 15-yard line. But after a sack from Morlidge, Noah Murphy broke up a pass on fourth down to kill the drive.
Effective coverage from the Pride secondary stunted the Lake Norman Charter passing attack for much of the second half and led to more sacks. Consecutive sacks from Demitrius Johnson and McAulay Maddox gave Pine Lake Prep the ball at the Knights’ 30-yard line.
But the Lake Norman Charter defense kept the Knights in the game. With Pine Lake Prep threatening to extend its lead in the final quarter, an interception in the end zone kept Lake Norman within a single score, 14-6. After Lake Norman Charter prevented any positive plays on the next Pride possession deep in Knight territory, Pine Lake Prep muffed a snap on a punting play and recovered the ball in the end zone, resulting in a safety and making the score 14-8.
With his defender still on an island, Knight receiver Chris Peal responded by beating his defender down the field and receiving a 48-yard touchdown from Womack tying the game. Without a sound kicker, Lake Norman Charter was forced to attempt a two-point conversion, but Demetrius Johnson snuffed out the ball carrier to make the stop.
Knight defensive back Gavin Thomas broke up consecutive passes on the Pride’s final drive, sending the game into overtime.
Pine Lake Prep began overtime in possession ,with each team allowed four downs to score from its opponent’s 10-yard line. Morlidge took consecutive runs to the 3-yard line. Reid then found Maddox just inside the back corner of the end zone to score a touchdown and leave the game in the hands of the Pride defense.
On Lake Norman Charter’s overtime chance, Murphy picked off a pass over the middle to seal the win.