PENSACOLA, Fla. – The two undefeated powers of the Panhandle battled in Pensacola Friday night as the Niceville Eagles traveled to Pine Forest to face the FHSAA 6A runner up from 2021.
The game was touted as the match-up of the year so far in Northwest Florida.
The teams combined for only three punts in this one as fourth down plays were the pendulum that swung the contest in Pine Forest's favor in the hosts' 28-7 victory.
Niceville attempted four fourth downs and missed the mark on all of them. While one was a missed 49-yard field goal attempt by placekicker Logan Marise, the remaining attempts at extending drives were foiled by a Pine Forest defense that frustrated the visiting Eagles all night long.
Apart from two long 45 yard passes from Niceville’s quarterback Harrison Orr, to the team's leading receiver on the season, Maddox Fayard, Pine Forest held Niceville to under 50 yards in the air and under 100 yards on the ground.
Pine Forest on the other hand, attempted three fourth downs and converted on all three, all of which came in one drive to end the second quarter.
Pine Forest opened the scoring with a a 3-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Tierra Wilson, late in the first quarter, and Niceville evened things, at 7-7, early in the second quarter, with a 3-yard TD run by Deangelo Shorts.
Pine Forest followed by orchestrated a body blow of a drive that went 15 plays and 80 yards, consuming all but a few seconds of the remaining time in the second quarter. With time running down, Wilson completed a pass to Hasshawn Hackworth who was stopped at the Niceville 1-inch line on a third down play. Pine Forest was pushed back to the 10 after consecutive false start penalties, but Wilson and Hackworth connected again on fourth down, this time for a touchdown, as Pine Forest seized a 14-7 lead and all of the momentum heading into halftime.
Niceville opened the third quarter by quickly driving to the Pine Forest 12 yard line, where the drive stalled when the Eagles turned the ball over on downs for a second time in the contest.
One play later, Pine Forest was in the end zone as Minnesota commit Danielle Hayes took the ball on a wide receiver reverse and raced 88 yards for a touchdown.
Following the ensuing kickoff the Pine Forest defense ratcheted up the pressure, sacking Orr twice, deep in Niceville territory. After the ball was punted back to the host Eagles, they capped the evening's scoring with a six play, 50-yard drive which culminated with a 7-yard TD run by Wilson.
Wilson proved to be the player of the game. He threw for more than 160 yards with a touchdown pass, and rushed for more than 60 yards and two more touchdowns. Hackworth was Pine Forest's primary receiver with 129 recievng yards and one touchdown.
Pine Forest is now poised to finish their season very strong and looks to make another deep run into the playoffs this season. Niceville, on the other hand, despite its 6-0 start, is in a tough place after the loss, as it still must face two tough opponents in its last three games. The Eagles will host Mosley in two weeks, before closing the regular season with an always tough rivalry battle against Navarre.
N 0 7 0 0 – 7
PF 7 7 14 0 – 28
PF - Tierra Wilson 3 run (Juan Fraga kick)
N - Deangelo Shorts 3 run (Logan Marise kick)
PF - Hasshawn Hackworth 11 pass from Wilson (Fraga kick)
PF - Donielle Hayes 88 run (Fraga kick)
N - Wilson 7 run (Fraga kick)