By David Willis
SALEM — New Pinkerton QB Jack Hanaway shrugged shyly when asked about his first big day behind center.
“I think I’m playing all right,” said Hanaway. “I want to get better, but my confidence is OK.”
Off to his left, co-captain and star linebacker Matt Madden could be heard scoffing at the response.
“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Madden joked. “His confidence should be 110 percent. He’s doing great!”
After splitting snaps through the opener and into Game 2 Hanaway, who seemed to grasp the starting spot a week ago, further solidified his spot yesterday with a pair of slick rushing touchdowns to help lead Pinkerton to a 27-2 victory over Salem.
“I think Jack is really feeling at home at QB,” said Madden. “I didn’t think he would be doing this good this early, but he is shocking everyone and we are excited.”
Earning the start after an impressive performance a week ago — in which he dove over a defender to score a touchdown — the junior QB quickly paid dividends against Salem.
With the Astros holding a 7-0 lead early in the second, Hanaway faked a handoff, broke left and scampered 49 yards for a touchdown.
One possession later, he did it a second time, again running play-action to the fullback that fooled everyone and keeping it himself untouched into the end zone for an 18-yard score.
“He is settling in very well and it has been really surprising,” said running back Manny Latimore. “I didn’t think he would get so comfortable in the offense so fast. But just seeing him last week, we knew he would be a great starter. Those two touchdowns were great today.”
The speedy Hanaway finished with 69 yards rushing on seven carries and the two TDs. He needed to attempt just five passes, completing three for 41 yards. One completion set up a Latimore touchdown and one incompletion was dropped.
“He’s doing a very nice job,” said Astros coach Brian O’Reilly. “He’s managing the offense very well. He is a very good running quarterback, which is of great value in the wing-T offense. He ran the bootleg and the keeper very well. And he throws a nice ball.”
It was superstar Latimore that sparked the Pinkerton offense early. With Salem playing inspired defense to start the game, Latimore put the Astros in control when he weaved though traffic and broke free for an 81-yard touchdown.
“That was huge,” said Hanaway. “We came out very flat and when he scored on that big run, it really got the team going and we were really amped up after that.”
Latimore was his dominant self, rushing for 175 yards on just 14 carries and a pair of touchdowns.
Madden again led the defensive attack with 12 tackles, Phil Harper was tough in the middle with six stops and defensive back David Dupont locked down the victory with a late interception that killed Salem’s best drive of the day.
The Blue Devils kept themselves in the game with some tough defense, led by Austin Homsey (13 tackles, sack) and Zach Luiapaka (11 tackles). Chris Stanton added an interception.
“We knew Salem wasn’t going to roll over on their homecoming day,” said Madden. “But we stuck it out and got a good win.”
There was a scary scene late in the contest when Astros defensive back Nick Liporto and Salem QB John Cerretani collided head-to-head with moments to go in the fourth quarter.
Liporto remained on the ground for a several moments before walking to the sidelines with the help of trainers.
Following the game, Liporto was transported by ambulance to the hospital. He was conscious and O’Reilly said he did not believe it was a head injury, but an injury to his rib area.
For lots of video highlights and interviews from Pinkerton’s win over Salem, visit eagletribune.com/sports.
agateHed:Pinkerton 27, Salem 2
agateText:Pinkerton (2-1): 6 14 7 0 — 27
agateText:Salem (0-3): 0 0 0 2 — 2
agateText: P — Manny Latimore 81 run (kick failed), 6:19
agateText: P — Jack Hanaway 49 run (Kyle Cantalupo kick), 9:17
P — Hanaway 18 run (Cantalupo kick), 4:48
agateText: P — Latimore 5 run (Cantalupo kick), 0:53
agateText: S — Safety, Pinkerton snap on punt goes into end zone, 6:48
agateText:RUSHING: P (39-336) —Manny Latimore 14-175, Jack Hanaway 7-69, T.J. Urbanik 6-60, Nick Liporto 4-16, Ryan Day 5-(14), Jake Froehlich 2-4, David Dupont 1-(-2); S (38-146) — Jason Martinez 16-45, Zach Luiapaka 2-44, Matt Loffredo 8-44, Doug Maroun 3-12, Mark Foglia 2-4, Corey Ortiz 1-3, Nick Lacreta 1-3, Nick Shumski 1-0, Jason Cerretani 4-(-9)
agateText:PASSING: P — Hanaway 3-5-0, 41; S — Cerretani 6-13-1, 62, Shumski 1-1-0, 7
agateText:RECEIVING: P — Isaiah Backels 1-20, James Toohey 1-16, Latimore 1-5; S — Jake Poore 5-26, Austin Homsey 1-32, Matt Ayotte 1-9