But the 16th seeded Patriots did just the opposite, giving Athens Academy all they could handle in the opening round of the Class-A private school state playoffs. Pisgah jumped out to an early two touchdown lead and led late in the fourth quarter before Athens Academy reeled off 17 unanswered to win 17-13 and advance to the Class-A state quarterfinals.
“It was a great game and great effort by our kids,” said Mount Pisgah football coach Doug Dixon. “We were winning late with nine minutes to go and they converted a 4th-and-16 and ended up scoring got so momentum which hurt.
“But our kids fought hard. With a minute to go we came right back and drove to the 25-yardline. We had two shots at the end zone to win it, and I thought we caught one of them, but came up just short.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Jacob Delk’s interception set up the Patriots first touchdown — a 15-yard pass from Aaron Winchester to Ryan Felice — to take a 7-0 lead. Delk then picked off another pass deep in Spartan territory that set up a short Oz Dixon touchdown run that sent the game to halftime 13-0.
Following a scoreless third quarter, Athens Academy scored on their final three drives to cap off a frantic comeback and keep their unbeaten season alive.
The loss ended Pisgah’s season with a 6-5 record but left Dixon very optimistic regarding the path of the Patriots’ football program.
“I think it shows that we’re headed in the right direction. I can tell you right now that we’re already looking forward to next season and the opportunities out there for us.”
Pisgah will return the bulk of their starters next season and lose just seven seniors — Felice, Flint Geier, Dylan Dixon, Austin Harper, Foster Gailey, Zach Canada, Mitchell Phillips.
“We’ll have a good group back next year but those guys were losing played a lot of football for us. They not only laid the foundation for our program, but started putting some bricks up too,” said the Pisgah coach