Patriots knockoff unbeaten PCA

Published 12:23 am Saturday, October 2, 2010

PRATTVILLE – The two-time AISA Class AAA reigning champs let Prattville Christian know that the road to the 2010 championship still must come through them.

Junior running back Nick McLaughlin did whatever he wanted to do on offense against the six-ranked Panthers, helping Pike Liberal Arts pick up its three straight win en route to a 27-7 road victory Friday night.

Pike’s win signaled an end to the red-hot start of Prattville Christian, which watched its school-record six-game winning streak stopped. PCA (6-1) entered this season with just eight wins total for a program that was established back in 2007.

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“We came out and worked hard, but we weren’t prepared for them tonight,” Panthers second-year head coach Grey Powell said. “They’re to good of a football team for us not to be ready to play and try to win. We’re going to let it hurt for a little bit, then get ready for Bessemer.”

With the Panthers being a potential threat to the throne, McLaughin and his teammates flexed their muscles early in this one. The Patriots (5-1) held a 12-7 lead late in the second quarter until McLaughlin broke several tackles on his way to an 8-yard touchdown pass with one second remaining.

“Our (offensive) line did real good and we had two new guys in the backfield,” said McLaughlin, who had 123 yards rushing. “I was working with some pretty big holes; we looked good as a team and I am happy with that.”

The 6-foot-1 McLaughlin was the story of the game, finishing with 160 yards combined. He scored on rushing touchdowns of 3 and 26 during the opening quarter that helped Pike Liberal Arts create an early advantage.

“He’s our work horse,” said Patriots coach Steven Kilcrease, whose team was ranked No. 7 in the ASWA polls this week. “We’ve got to give him the ball; Nick is a special player and I thought we did a great job of blocking for him.

“(McLaughlin) is a great, great player and he wreaked havoc on us all night long,” Powell said.

While the Patroits were benefiting from the efforts of their star player, PCA failed to get the same production from its standout J.J. Hudson, who struggled throughout to find any running lanes in the defense and finished with only 31 yards.

Since the loss of starting quarterback Jordan Peak, Prattville Christian Academy has had to rely mainly on its running game to take down opponents. But Pike Liberal Arts’ defensive front four took that option away, allowing 60 yards on the ground.

“That was something we wanted to challenge our guys with,” Kilcrease said. “We knew the skill that they had scared us to death; anybody on any given time could take it the distance. I thought our guys did a good job up front containing – that was the difference for me in the ball game.”

In the third quarter, signal-caller Blake Floyd’s 11-yard TD strike to Sam Carroll, who had three catches for 57 yards, provided the final margin for the Pike Liberal Arts, which will tangle with top-ranked Fort Dale next week at home. PCA had opportunities to get back into the ball game, as Pike Liberal lost two fumbles in the second half. However, the Panthers were unable to get any type of rhythm going and were forced to punt the ball away both times.

“Our offense was just not hitting on all cylinders tonight,” Powell explained. “We’d make a play here or there, then we’d make three straight bonehead decisions or miss some blocks. (Pike) did what they wanted to us.”

Edward Todd’s 30-yard TD reception in the second quarter was the lone score for PCA, which also got two interceptions from Josh Jones.