By Chris Paul
In a game that came down to the final minutes, two-point conversion, the Pinkerton Academy Football team survived their Quarterfinal game against Bishop Guertin 14-12 and will now move onto a Semifinal contest in Londonderry next weekend against the rival Lancers.
The NHIAA Division I Championships have pretty much gone as expected in the top half of the bracket, with the number one-seeded Londonderry and number four-seeded Astros making it to the semis, but on the bottom half of the bracket, two upsets were recorded over the weekend.
The number two-seed, Nashua North, was bested by Bedford (#10) with a score of 7-0 and Timberlane (#6) advanced past Exeter (#3) in the lower-half bracket 29-28.
On Friday night, Nov. 11, at Pinkerton, the Astros needed to battle some wet field conditions as well as a tough BG defense for the victory that gave the Astros their second close playoff win and their fifth consecutive division win.
Pinkerton received the opening kickoff, but was unable capitalize on the good field position to start the game with the ball at their 42-yard line.
The Astros worked there way down to a fourth down and five at the BG 28-yard line where junior quarterback, Tim Hersom, tossed a pass through the wet hands of sophomore, Matt Morrison and BG took over on downs at their 28-yard line.
The Cardinal’s first drive of the evening dies at their own 38-yard line where they punt to the PA 13-yard line.
On the first play of PA’s second ball possession, Morrison got the handoff and darted down the right sideline for an 87-yard run touchdown. The wet ball then played as a factor in a bad snap and a failed extra point.
With the 6-0 lead, the PA defense held BG’s second drive to just their 35-yard line where they were forced to punt after a penalty on fourth and inches.
Senior running back, Jacob Albert, began the following drive with a 24-yard run from the PA 35-yard line to the BG 42.
From there, seniors Jake Yennaco and Albert pounded the ball down the field to end the quarter on the Cardinal nine-yard line.
In the second quarter, at 9:29, Yennaco put his team up by two touchdowns with a run up the middle from the six-yard line.
Pinkerton head coach, Brian O’Reilly, then had Albert run in the two-point conversion, who wound up being untouched on the left side and into the end zone for the 14-0 lead.
The following drive was a successful one for the Cardinals, mostly due to the versatile play of their senior quarterback, Matt Stanosuosso.
Stanosuosso called his own number for a number of plays in the drive that ended with a one-yard run by the BG quarterback into the endzone.
The slippery ball reared its ugly head on the extra-point, leaving BG down by eight with 40 seconds left in the first half.
The first half ended with a score of 14-6 despite Pinkerton trying to make their way down field with very little time on the clock.
Looking to tie things up early to start the second half, BG’s first drive ends with a fumble recovery by senior defensive back, Kaycee Dennis, after a gang of PA defenders strip the ball from a Cardinals full back.
In the following play, PA recovers its own fumble, after a bad snap on the BG 44-yard line. Junior defensive lineman, Adam Day, was able to fall on the ball to prevent the turnover.
The following play had Yennacco making a big 12-yard reception for a first down to continue the PA drive.
That drive ended at the BG 20-yard line, where a field goal attempt by senior kicker, Craig Coventry, hits the center of the bottom goal post.
The Cardinal’s play caller, Stanosuosso, once again led his team down the field with a number of big keepers to bring the ball all the way to PA two-yard line. The drive featured a 26-yard run down the middle of the field by Stanosuosso.
The Pinkerton defense protected the end zone at the end of that exceptional BG drive and took over on downs at the two-yard line with just over 10-minutes left to play in the game.
The Cardinals were able to keep Pinkerton pinned back inside the 10-yard line and forced the Astros to punt, where BG started their following drive at the 30-yard line.
In that drive, with just under five minutes left in the game, BG put the ball in the air on fourth down and six to bring the game to with two-points.
The Pinkerton defense came up big on the two-point conversion that would tie the game. Senior defensive back, Patrick Waldron, read the lateral by Stanosuosso perfectly and ended BG’s chances to knot the game at 14.
With just over four minutes left on the clock, BG attempts an onside kick, which PA’s Albert recovers at the Astros 37-yard line.
From there, PA was content to just run the ball and take as many minutes off the clock to end the game.
Yanacco made the final big play of the evening with a three-yard, first down run and just over a minute left in the game.
The victory keeps the Astros in the Division I Championship and they will now travel to Londonderry on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Earlier in the season, the Astros were beaten 31-6 by the Lancers during Mack Plaque weekend.