KEENE — Now that Pinkerton once again has washed its hands of preliminary opponents, the Astros can set their sights on what matters most.
As it has for most of the past decade, third-seeded Pinkerton dispatched a semifinal opponent with its convincing 44-20 victory over second-seeded Keene yesterday, earning a spot in the Division I title game.
“This is the ninth time in the past 10 years we’ve been in the championship game,” Pinkerton coach Brian O’Reilly said of his squad which will take a 9-2 record against top-seeded 11-0 Concord on Saturday. “This is what we do, so we’re not satisfied just to be in the championship game. So we need to finish.”
Against Keene (8-3), the Astros struggled to a 10-0 halftime lead, scoring on a 9-yard Jack Hanaway on Pinkerton’s first possession and a 33-yard field goal by Kyle Cantalupo.
“(Keene) gave us some issues in the first half,” O’Reilly said. “I’ll give them credit for that. We had control of it, but being up only 10-0 was not good. We made some adjustments at halftime, and came out right from the get go. The sweep worked real well, to be honest.”
Indeed it did as Pinkerton needed just two possessions and 10 plays after intermission to open a 23-point lead. Matt Madden struck first, going down the middle for a 21-yard Hanaway pass before Manny Latimore busted a 21-yard run 58 seconds later.
The second score was set up by a T.J. Urbanik interception — one of five on the day by Astro defenders. Two of the picks were by junior Isaiah Backels, who added another on a two-point conversion following Keene’s first touchdown. Lloyd Williams and David Dupont also had interceptions.
“We just wanted to stay behind (the receivers),” said Backels, who also had two interceptions against Manchester Memorial. “We just wanted to stay deepest and keep our man covered.”