ALBANY -- After a big fourth-and-2 stop on its own 10-yard line, Sherwood looked poised to come back from an 11-point deficit Friday night.
With 6:20 left in the fourth quarter, quarterback Brett Shepard dropped back for a quick pass that landed in the hands of Pinewood's Dalton Johnson.
Though no player from Sherwood dared to admit it, any hope of a homecoming victory was lost when Dalton ran the interception back for a touchdown. The final buzzer sounded with the Eagles losing 34-17, dropping their sixth game of the season.
"Heartbroken," running back MJ Green answered when asked what he was feeling after losing a winnable game.
The Eagles (1-6, 1-4) had a two-point advantage at halftime and were far more efficient than the Patriots (4-4, 4-3) in the first half.
Green intercepted a pass from Johnathon Lawson on the Patriots' first possession. The Eagles then mixed things up on offense before Derek Allen scored the game's first touchdown on a 5-yard run. He gained all 17 of his yards in the first half.
The Patriots responded with a futile 15-play drive that ended on a turnover on downs.
Shepard, who appeared to have no lingering effects from an early-season concussion, continued to move the ball downfield by completing his first 10 passes for 106 first-half yards.
"Just coming out and starting like this means a lot to me, but the way it ended is not what I wanted it to be like," Shepard said. "We just weren't clicking like we were in the first half."
After Pinewood scored its first touchdown on a short run up the middle, Sherwood's TJ Clay kicked a 20-yard field goal that gave the Eagles a 9-7 halftime lead.
"We were concerned with their athleticism and speed, (but) to a sense we were pleased with the way we played," Pinewood coach Keith Wasson said. "We just knew we had to make some adjustments at halftime, and our guys answered."
The answer came in the form of 20 uncontested points. Sherwood's second-half offense was nonexistent, and its defense yielded two third-quarter touchdowns.
"Unfortunately for us, we don't have depth on our offensive and defensive lines, and that showed up in the second half because the majority of our guys are going both ways," Sherwood coach Otis Covington said. "They were driving the ball the length of the field and when we did get stops, we were backed up.
"Our offensive line just got fatigued because we were getting pressure in the second half that we weren't in the first, and that slowed us down and prevented us from doing what we wanted to do."
Pinewood's David Bland, who had a major height advantage on any Eagles defensive back, caught a 31-yard fade for a touchdown on a fourth-and-6 play. With his backs doing most of the work to move the chains, Lawson ran in from 1-yard out, giving the Patriots an 11-point lead.
"I think field position played a big part in the second half," Wasson said. "We got good coverage on our kickoff to start the second half, and we were able to keep them pinned."
After the Patriots' third respectable series of more than 10 plays came Shepard's costly interception that virtually crushed the Eagles for good. He added another on the Eagles' next possession.
"We did not come out with our head focused like we did in the first half," said Green, who finished with 14 yards on the ground and four receptions for 29 yards. "Even though we lost, we fought hard and give God all the glory."
Sherwood did get a big defensive play from Rashard Davis, who caught two passes for 10 yards. After the Eagles defense halted Dalton on the ground, Davis ripped the ball from his hands and fled 35 yards to the end zone.
"Rashard is one of the guys who is always trying to get the ball out," Covington said. "It was a great play on his part in not giving up, and it gave us some momentum but we could not hold on to it."