Hebron Christian hosted Pinecrest Academy in their first ever region contest with high hopes for a fast start in Region 8-A.
Those hopes were dashed quickly.
"It was just a butt whoopin'," Hebron head coach Sal Battaglia said.
Pinecrest quarterback Jimmy Strom scored on runs of 37, 65 and 2 yards in the first quarter as the Paladins jumped on Hebron early and sailed to a 35-0 win Friday night in Dacula.
The Hebron offense could never find its rhythm. The swarming Paladin defense throttled sophomore running back Hunter Johnson, who rushed for 136 yards last week against St. Francis, holding him to 37 yards on 17 carries.
After the first quarter Pinecrest onslaught, the Lions pieced together their most sustained drive of the game. Hebron marched 61 yards in 15 plays, highlighted by an 18-yard pass from Connor Holliday to Seth Kuntz. The drive fizzled at the Pinecrest 19 when the Lions were stopped on downs to squelch the threat.
Still trailing 21-0 late in the second quarter and facing a 4th down on their own 25 yard line, the Lions gambled to generate some momentum. However, a fake punt attempt was stuffed in the middle of the Paladins' line.
Pinecrest capitalized on the next play when Matthew Walters rumbled 25 yards with 1:29 remaining in the half to extend the lead to 28-0.
"We thought we had the middle of the field open," Battaglia said. "Maybe that wasn't the place to do it, but I really thought we had it there. We had a bad snap and we never got a chance to get the ball up the middle."
Strom, the son of former Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Rick Strom, capped a sensation individual effort with his fourth TD on a 6-yard run midway through the third quarter. Strom finished with 146 yards on 11 carries.
"He's a great football player and a great athlete," Battaglia said. "I think Pinecrest is going to do very well in the Region. But we have good young kids and a lot we can build on. Our time will come."
Hebron (1-3, 0-1 Region 8-A) travels to George Walton Academy next week.