Patriots lose late lead in loss to Lakeside

Published 11:32 pm Friday, November 1, 2019

The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots finished the season in heartbreaking fashion Friday night with a 35-34 loss at home to the Lakeside Chiefs.

It didn’t take long for the Chiefs to get on the scoreboard, taking the opening kick back more than 70 yards to the Patriots three-yard-line before punching in a rushing touchdown.

The Patriots responded with a long drive of their own, mixing in the run and pass for a 68-yard drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock. Chip Faircloth ran the ball in from a yard out to tie the score at 7-7.

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Lakeside responded quickly, taking just three minutes to reach the end zone once again to put the Chiefs up 14-7.

The Chiefs caught Pike off guard on the ensuing kickoff, recovering an onside kick and scoring a 45-yard rushing touchdown on the next play to put the Chiefs up 21-7 with 2:40 left in the first quarter.

The Patriots faked a screen on the next drive, with quarterback Parker Adams instead throwing deep to Davis Allen for a 26-yard gain, setting up an 8-yard touchdown run by Faircloth to start the second quarter.

The Patriots appeared to have a stop when Lakeside was called for holding before fumbling the ball backwards to set up a third-and-17. The screen pass was incomplete, but the referees called roughing the passer, continuing the Chiefs’ drive. The Chiefs ran in a 40-yard touchdown on the next play to take the 28-14 lead.

The Patriots drove down to the 10-yard-line on the next drive, setting up a fourth-and-goal. The Patriots sideline erupted as the head official called a delay of game penalty, although another official had been holding the ball just seconds prior. Head coach Gene Allen made his case to the ref, earning the Patriots a sideline warning before the referee then threw another flag for unsportsmanlike conduct on Allen.

The combined penalties turned a 27-yard field goal attempt into a 47-yard attempt. The Patriots sideline erupted once again as Renfroe sent the ball sailing through the uprights.

The Patriots defense, energized from the previous drive, held Lakeside to three yards, forcing a punt. Lakeside attempted a fake punt and took it all the way to the end zone, only to have the play called back for a block in the back. Electing to punt this time, the Patriots took over at the Lakeside 14 thanks to two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against the Chiefs, resulting in the ejection of a Chiefs player.

Faircloth reached the endzone again on a three-yard run to bring the score to 28-24 with 1:22 left before halftime.

The Patriots took the opening drive 64 yards down the field, again with a balanced passing and rushing attack, giving Faircloth his fourth touchdown of the game with a one-yard score.

The two teams traded possessions and the Patriots stopped the Chiefs on a fourth-and-one at their own 29 to start with the ball in Chiefs territory. Nelson made another field goal to bring the score to 34-28 at the top of the fourth quarter.

The Patriots forced a fumble and looked to be putting the game away, setting up for first-and-goal at the five-yard-line. But two holding calls resulted in the Patriots attempting a field goal from the 25-yard-line, but couldn’t connect.

Lakeside took the following drive all the way down the field, benefiting from another sideline violation against Pike Lib to take the lead 35-34 with 2:42 left in the half.

The Patriots’ chances for a comeback were squashed when a pass was stripped from the receiver with less than two minutes remaining.

“I’m extremely proud of our boys,” Allen said. “We’ve had a lot of adversity all year; we had nine players not dressed tonight. We were able to get the young kids a lot of experience. We just didn’t capitalize on some of the opportunities we had.”

Allen said he is especially proud of his seniors for giving their all and is looking forward to next season.­