Mount Pisgah 15, Holy Innocents 7

Winchester, defense power Patriots into state semifinals against Aquinas

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – The Mount Pisgah Patriots moved one step closer to a shot at a state championship, defeating Holy Innocents 15-7 last Friday night, Nov. 29, in the quarterfinals of the state Class A private school playoffs.

The Patriots will host Aquinas in the semifinals Friday night, with the two unbeaten teams competing for a spot in the state championship game at the Georgia Dome next Friday afternoon.

Mount Pisgah is the No. 2 seed in the bracket, with Aquinas No. 3. Top-seeded Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy will host No. 4 Calvary Day of Savannah in Friday’s other semifinal game.

After rolling to a 40-0 halftime lead the previous week in their playoff opener against Pacelli, the Patriots had a much tougher time in the second round against Holy Innocents, which was 4-0 against Mount Pisgah when the two teams were in the same region from 2008-11.

The Bears scored first after Pisgah came up empty following a long opening drive that reached the Holy Innocents’ 7. A 45-yard touchdown run put the Bears on top 7-0 before a 27-yard TD pass from Aaron Winchester to Ben Miller pulled the Patriots within 7-6.

The Patriots were driving late in the second period when the Bears intercepted a Winchester pass, but Ian Ainsworth got the ball right back for Mount Pisgah with an interception on the next play.

A 25-yard reception by Browning Dunn and a 15-yard penalty against the Bears put Mount Pisgah in position for a 23-yard touchdown pass from Winchester to Oz Dixon on the final play of the first half.

Leading 12-7 at the half, the Patriots opened the third period with a 12-play drive that stalled at the Bears’ 2. Chris Clark kicked a 19-yard field goal for the game’s final points.

The Pisgah defense held on the rest of the way, stopping several Holy Innocents scoring threats.

A third down sack resulted in a huge loss and forced a punt after the Bears held the ball for 15 plays. Holy Innocents was driving for a potential tying touchdown late in the game when Ainsworth’s second interception stopped the Bears and preserved Mount Pisgah’s win.

Winchester had another big game, amassing 373 yards total offense. He completed 15 of 24 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 147 yards on 24 attempts.

Dixon caught five passes for 77 yards and Miller added 78 yards on four receptions.

Linebackers John O’Connor and Nicky Piccapietra had nine and eight tackles respectively for the Patriots, with linemen Blake Smith and Shingi Chigwere adding five tackles each.

Holy Innocents, which finished in a three-way tie for second in Region 5-A, finished the season 7-5. Mount Pisgah brings a 12-0 record into the semifinals, matching that of Aquinas.