Astro Gridders Shed Upstart Clippers in Second Half

The Portsmouth Clippers were able to stick with the defending Division I football champion Pinkerton Academy Astros through the majority of one half of play on the seacoast Friday night, Sept. 11. But then coach Brian O’Reilly’s Astros turned the contest into a laugher.

The game was tied at 14-14 with a little more than three minutes gone in quarter number two, but Pinkerton then poured on its depth and speed on the way to a 54-14 walloping of its host.

The undefeated locals rushed for nearly 400 yards but didn’t pass for any, attempting just three throws but pummeling the host Clippers with a running attack paced by Brett Dattilo and his 166 rushing yards on 10 carries, including no less than three scoring sprints.

The Clippers, who were bested solidly by the Merrimack High Tomahawks in their season-opener a week earlier, tallied the first six points of the evening some four minutes in on an 18-yard pass play.

However, PA quarterback Ryan Albrecht’s 1-yard scoring jaunt – followed by a Kyle Cantalupo extra-point – a little more than two minutes later made the score 7-6 in Pinkerton’s favor.

The Astros then went up 14-6 in the final 30 seconds of quarter one when running back Nico Buccieri’s 3-yard scoring sprint was followed by another Cantalupo extra point.

However, Portsmouth battled its way back to a 14-14 tie 3:17 into the second period on another scoring pass, which was followed by a successful two-point conversion pass.

The score stayed knotted at 14-14 until 1:52 remained in the half when Dattilo tore off a 12-yard scoring sprint, and that was followed up by defensive points from PA on a 35-yard interception return by James Tulley to leave the locals grasping a 28-14 halftime advantage.

And the Astros piled up 27 unanswered points in the second half, with Dattilo running for touchdowns of 57 and 22 yards, Buccieri contributing a 35-yard interception return for points, and sophomore Matt Newman sprinting 40 yards for another score.

Buccieri finished the night with 79 rushing yards, Mike Curley added 66, and the PA defense held its host’s offense to negative rushing yardage of minus-30 yards. The Clippers tallied 232 passing yards in a losing effort.

The now 2-0 Astros will be on the road again Saturday to face the 2-0 Salem Blue Devils on that rival squad’s home grid.

The winner of that game will determine which team will sit atop the Division I South standings at this early stage in the campaign.