Despite a strong defensive effort, the Pinkerton Academy football team had its hopes of a successful defense of its 2014 Division I championship evaporate into the chilly autumn air with a 10-0 semifinal-round playoff loss at the hands of the Exeter High Blue Hawks in Derry last Saturday, Nov. 14.
The combination of an impressive and stingy performance by the Exeter defense and the Pinkerton offense’s inability to get rolling in any consistent way led to the end of the top-ranked Astros’ 2015 campaign in frustrating fashion.
Pinkerton coach Brian O’Reilly saw his team collect a stunning yardage tally of 108 yards in the loss, never running even a single play in Exeter territory.
The Astro defense spent the majority of the game on the field trying – quite successfully as it turned out – to keep the potent Blue Hawks’ offense from piling up the points.
The second-seeded visitors ran a total of 65 plays while the host Astros only ran 34, and the PA defense needed to keep working hard as it tired in an effort to keep a Pinkerton comeback a possibility.
“We got shut out, and that’s pretty much all you need to know,” lamented O’Reilly. “We just could not get anything going on offense, and its been a long time since that’s happened.”
The Pinkerton offense only managed to collect four first downs all day, while the Blue Hawks tallied 17. The local team had the football for seven offensive series and ended up punting the ball away five times and turning it over twice on pass interceptions.
“That’s a tough Exeter defense, but we didn’t do ourselves any favors,” said O’Reilly.
Pinkerton’s defense held Exeter to a modest 212 offensive yards, but the visitors did all they needed to with the football in order to advance to the D-I championship game.
Beefy Exeter running back Jackson Allen had the top individual performance of any player in the game, rushing the ball 25 times for 88 yards. Conversely, the Astros’ standout backs Brett Dattilo and Nico Buccieri combined for just 58 yards on 13 carries to pace their struggling squad.
The Blue Hawks claimed all of the points they’d wind up needing to win on this chilly afternoon with 10:41 left in the second quarter when quarterback Kyle Ball capped off a 17-play, nearly eight-minute drive by running the ball into the end zone from three yards out.
The visitors had set the tone for the contest by running 20 offensive plays to Pinkerton’s six in quarter number one.
The Blue Hawks nudged their lead up to 10-0 mid-way through the third period when kicker Evan Royer nailed a 35-yard field goal, and there would be no more scoring the rest of the way on a frustrating day for PA.