FAYETTEVILLE — A couple of last-minute Troy Mitchell runs propelled the Lumberton Pirates past the Pine Forest Trojans in a close football game, 34-27 Friday night on the Trojans’ home field in Fayetteville.
Pine Forest (1-1, 0-0) won the opening kick-off and immediately took the ball 67-yards on a 6-play drive, culminating in a 38-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Julian Hill to junior wide receiver LaVonte Carter. This would prove to be the only scoring of the half as both teams struggled to hold on to and move the ball.
Lumberton (1-1, 0-0) managed to move the ball effectively until the Pirates reached the redzone, suffering three failed 4th-down conversions inside the Trojan 30-yard line.
Defensively, the Pirates managed to recover two Pine Forest fumbles. Senior defensive back Tyliek Brown also made a key interception at Lumberton’s own 19-yard line to shut down a dangerous Trojan drive.
Thanks to their effective defense, the Pirates kept the score close at 7-0 heading in to halftime.
The Pirates opened up the third quarter in electric fashion as junior Tyriek McCallum returned the opening kick-off 96 yards, but a failed extra point kick by sophomore Will Osman left the score at 7-6. The Trojans then responded with a 44-yard kick return that set them up at the Lumberton 36-yard line. Six plays later, Carter scores again, this time on a 4-yard scamper. Senior DJ Gerow missed the extra point to leave the score 13-6, Pine Forest.
The Trojans added to the deficit on the ensuing possession, with Hill once again finding Carter, this time on a 17-yard pass to bring the score to 20-6 with 5:06 left in the third quarter.
Lumberton would finish off the third with a 71-yard dash by senior running back Troy Mitchell, who brought the score to 20-13.
It was all Lumberton in the fourth.
A 1-yard quarterback sneak from freshman Braylon Grice tied the game at 20. Then Troy Mitchell cut loose for a 4-yard run to put the Pirates up, 27-20.
The Trojans wouldn’t go down without a fight, however, as junior running back Willis Anthony took a 10-yard pass from Hill to the endzone to tie it up again at the 1:10 mark. Then, with 30 seconds left on the clock, Troy Mitchell found paydirt from 59 yards out to seal the victory for the Pirates, 34-27.
When asked about how he regrouped the team at the half, head coach Mike Setzer had some encouraging words.
“We felt like we left a lot of plays on the field in the first half,” he said. “We know that it’s a learning process, we were able to come out after halftime and make some adjustments and the kids believe in our adjustments now. I’m really, really, so proud of my kids for pulling this win out.”
For Lumberton, Grice ended the game with 7 out of 18 completions for 46 yards and 1 interception, as well as a rushing TD. Troy Mitchell ran the ball 24 times for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns. Receivers Jamarie Fletcher and Josh Smith had 2 catches for 16 yards and 3 catches for 12 yards, respectively.
The Pirates return to action next week for a home game against South View at 7:30 p.m.
Taylor Jones is a sports correspondent for The Robesonian.