Although Keene did manage 276 yards on 35 passing attempts, Pinkerton shut down the running game, allowing only 27 yards on 21 carries. Justin Poitras had a fumble recovery while Ryan Day, who forced the fumble, recorded two of the Astros’ four sacks.
“There were a lot of turnovers today; a lot of interceptions,” O’Reilly said. “(The Blackbirds) had their way with people this year, but obviously our defense is something they haven’t seen before. They had a difficult time moving against it.”
On offense, Hanaway recorded his second rushing score early in the fourth, providing a comfortable 30-6 cushion. Urbanik (69 yard run) and Dupont (34 yarder) added to Pinkerton’s 21-point final period.
“They’re big and physical,” Keene coach John Lupoa said. “That was the difference in the football game.”
Now the Astros will be looking for payback at 1 p.m. Saturday in Concord, which rallied from a 14-6 third-quarter deficit for a 21-14 victory at Pinkerton on Oct. 11. The top-seeded Crimson Tide (11-0) defeated fourth-seeded Exeter yesterday 22-10. Overall, the Astros are 10-4 in title games, 4-4 since 2004.
“I’ll tell (the players) it’s not over,” O’Reilly said. “You’re not overly excited you’re going to the championship game. It’s unfinished business for us. We’ve been disappointed the last two years to an excellent Exeter team, and we’ll be the underdog on Saturday up in Concord.
“We thought we had that (regular-season) game the last time (against Concord). We didn’t. But that doesn’t matter now anyway. We’re just going to go looking for four full quarters, and if needed beyond.”
As for the veterans, nothing short of a win will satisfy their hunger.
“There was doubt on us,” co-captain Madden said of the regular season. “We always kept our heads up and kept working hard. We battled on the road a lot. We’re planning on taking it. There’s no way we’re losing it three years in a row.”