At halftime of Pine Forest's 35-21 home victory against Purnell Swett, senior quarterback Myron Fleming challenged the offense to pick up its play.
With the defense also putting together a strong fourth quarter, the Trojans scored the final three touchdowns in their come-from-behind win Friday night.
"We should have been playing like that in the first quarter," said Fleming, who rushed for 131 yards and two TDs. "We only seem to play when the knife is in our back. I try to preach it to them. We just have to want it."
Purnell Swett quarterback Thristan Lowry's second fourth-down touchdown pass of the night to Josh Brooks, this throw covering 19 yards, pushed the Rams ahead 21-14 only 11 seconds into the final quarter. Fleming capped an eight-play drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Lawrence Watson, and a strong rush from defensive lineman Miguel Rancy on the next offensive play helped Joshua Graham come down with an interception at the Rams' 33.
Purnell Swett's defense held, and Lowry led his team to the Trojans' 29 before closing the drive with three straight incompletions. Pine Forest running back Willis Anthony began the next possession with a 70-yard run to the Rams' 1, setting up a go-ahead touchdown from Deomontay Thornton with 2:53 remaining.
"All I saw was a hole," said Anthony, who finished with 103 yards. "I just hit it hard."
With Purnell Swett facing a fourth-and-8 scenario from its 22 early in the next series, Isaiah Graham intercepted a pass to give Pine Forest its fourth forced turnover. Fleming's 23-yard touchdown run with a minute left sealed the win.
After Lowry's touchdown pass with 11:49 remaining, the next 12 throws resulted in 10 incompletions and two interceptions.
"We had to bond together," Isaiah Graham said. "We couldn't let them tramp all over us like we don't own this field."
Pine Forest's D.J. Johnson recovered a fumble forced by Edwin Gonzalez on a punt return from inside the 10 in the opening minutes, and Tygee Spann scored on a third-and-goal carry from the 1. Purnell Swett ran 28 of the next 31 offensive plays to tie the game midway through the second quarter.
Pine Forest defensive back Keshawn Tyler broke up a fourth-down pass in the right-front corner of the end zone to end a 19-play drive, and the Rams regained possession at the Trojans' 44 after forcing a quick punt. Lowry finished a nine-play series with an 8-yard touchdown run.
Lowry's 28-yard touchdown pass to Brooks on a fourth-and-20 snap midway through the third quarter gave Purnell Swett a 14-7 lead, but Fleming had a 66-yard touchdown run on the next play from scrimmage.
"The emotion went back and forth," Pine Forest coach Bill Sochovka said "Great job by Myron and the senior class for not letting these guys fall and get behind."
For Purnell Swett, which has stressed the need to finish stronger this year, the fourth quarter was disappointing. Rams coach Mark Heil said his skill players, who rarely come off the field because of a lack of depth, were so fatigued that they had trouble lining up correctly.
“I thought our kids had the best heart that we’ve had in three years - and fight,” Heil said. “We just have to get in better shape and be able to be more ironmen because there’s no place else to go to find anybody.”
Richmond 21 Rocky River 14
Scotland 52 South View 0
Pinecrest 23 Overhills 12
Hoke 34 Ashley 6
Lumbeton 38 Douglas Byrd 0