Patriots quarterback Aaron Winchester delivered the decisive blow during a seven-play, 56-yard drive.
After Mount Pisgah (8-0, 4-0) took over with 1:30 left, Winchester completed four passes for 49 yards, rushed twice for 7 yards and connected with Ben Miller for a an 18-yard game-winning touchdown pass with 28 seconds left to give the 10th-ranked Patriots the 28-24 lead.
Mount Paran’s final possession resulted in a fumble at its own 12-yard line, which was recovered by the Patriots’ John O’Connor. It was the Eagles’ fourth turnover of the contest.
Winchester then kneeled to run out the clock.
Leading 24-21 with 4:41 remaining in the homecoming game, Mount Paran (6-2, 3-1) had a chance to milk the clock for the win, but Dorian Walker was stopped short on fourth-and-1 at the Patriots’ 44.
“It was my call,” Mount Paran coach Mitch Jordan said. “I thought about running a quick play on fourth-and-1 to try and draw them offsides, but our power running game had been successful for us.
“I thought they’d stack the middle to stop a quarterback sneak, so handing the ball off seemed like the right choice. We just didn’t pick it up. It’s a game of inches.”
Those inches caught up to Mount Paran all night. The Eagles’ defense dropped a handful of interception opportunities, and the team totaled 17 penalties for 144 yards.
On Mount Pisgah’s game-winning possession, Winchester, who finished the night 21-of-39 for 277 yards and four touchdowns, eluded two defenders for a potential sack and turned the play into a 5-yard gain on third down to set up fourth-and-1 at Mount Paran’s 47, which the Patriots’ converted.
During the previous drive, a 4-yard sack by the Mount Paran’s Patrick Lee, coupled with a 10-yard offensive holding penalty, pushed Mount Pisgah from inside the 10 to the Eagles’ 23. But three 5-yard encroachment penalties, including two on fourth down, gave the Patriots’ first-and-goal at the 8.
Three plays later, Winchester found Miller for an 8-yard touchdown pass to pull Mount Pisgah to within 24-21 with 4:41 on the clock.
“To be in the neutral zone and jump offsides, that’s just sloppy play,” Jordan said. “We had way too many penalties, and some key turnovers in there that really cost us. We had an opportunity to put the game away at the end, but give credit to Mount Pisgah, they kept fighting.”
A Mount Paran fumble late in the third quarter resulted in a 49-yard touchdown pass from Winchester to Browning Dunn, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 17-14.
Jacob Delk intercepted Mount Paran’s Jake Allen in the end zone with 5 seconds remaining in the first half, stopping a late scoring opportunity.
Mount Paran’s first possession of the game also ended without points, after Dallas Kepler’s 26-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Oz Dixon.
Walker, who had 29 carries for 170 yards, scored the first of his two rushing touchdowns with 37 seconds left in the first quarter.
A diving pass breakup from Mount Paran’s Graham Massey, and a sack from Lee, set up Matthew Norton with a blocked punt that was recovered by Massey. Four plays later, Kepler nailed a 37-yard field goal to put the Eagles in front 10-0.
Winchester capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown to Dixon as Mount Paran led 10-7 at halftime following the Delk interception.
Mount Paran took a 17-7 lead with 4:52 in the third quarter following Walker’s 40-yard touchdown run, but O’Connor’s fumble recovery helped Mount Pisgah back into the contest, with the Patriots trailing 17-14.
Emoni Williams, who had eight carries for 104 yards, scampered 72 yards for his lone touchdown that put the Eagles in front 24-14 with 6:56 on the clock, leading to Mount Pisgah’s final two drives.
Williams also caught six passes for 90 yards, while Allen was 12-for-16 for 140 yards and the interception.
Winchester added 16 carries for 80 yards. Dunn finished with six catches for 85 yards and a score, Dixon totaled six receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown and Miller caught five passes for 61 yards and two touchdowns.