WINDHAM — The moment almost a year in the making finally arrived for the Pinkerton football team on Saturday.
At long last, 11 months removed from their 2020 season being canceled after just three games due to COVID-19, the Astros stepped back onto the gridiron for a real game.
“It was amazing to be back,” said senior fullback/linebacker Jack Mackiernan. “It hurt so bad to lose last season. We love football, and watching other people play when we couldn’t was painful. I was waiting all year for this season to come. The jitters were there, but it was so exciting to go out and hit people again.”
Star running back Jacob Albert rushed for a career-high 174 yards and two touchdowns and caught a third score, Mackiernan scored two touchdowns and Pinkerton opened its 2021 season with a 33-6 victory over Windham on Saturday afternoon.
“It was a great win,” said Albert. “Coming back after last season, it was so great to get back on the field and get a quality win. Everyone stepped up and it was a great way to start.”
The game was a rematch of Pinkerton’s final game of 2020 — also won by the Astros — before the season was canceled due to COVID-19 cases unrelated to the football team.
“That was very tough news to hear, that our season was canceled,” said Albert. “We were gone for so long, it just felt so good to be back out here — after everything the team had been through — playing a game. We were so thrilled to be back out there. Everyone was ready.”
Windham opened Saturday’s contest with a strong drive, but Pinkerton senior Lorenzo Milana ended it with an interception.
The Astros took the lead with 1:46 to go in the first, when QB Nathan Campos fired a pass to Albert, who cruised in for a 27-yard touchdown.
“We drew that up during practice,” said Albert. “We thought we had the seams, and it worked the first try. Nathan threw a great pass, and I went in.”
Albert added to the lead with a 6-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. Then, senior linebacker Anthony Terrenzio intercepted a pass, setting up Mackiernan’s 1-yard touchdown with 2:04 left in the first half.
On his first carry of the second half, Albert erased any thought of a Jaguar rally when he ran a sweep to the left and sprinted away for a 75-yard touchdown.
“The guys had some great blocks,” he said. “I followed my block and cut up. Breaking the long one always feels great, knowing the drive is over in one play and we scored a quick touchdown.”
After forcing a three-and-out, Mackiernan capped the Pinkerton scoring, plowing in for a 2-yard touchdown.
“I love defense, because defense is so much fun,” said Mackiernan, an Eagle-Tribune All-Star wrestler. “But scoring two touchdowns is pretty fun. I didn’t run much today (6 carries, 20 yards), but it was a good day to score a touchdown.”
Windham resident Cole Yennaco added 80 rushing yards on 11 carries for the Astros.
“We are very good in the backfield,” said Pinkerton coach Brian O’Reilly. “Cole had a big day against his home town, and Jacob is Jacob. He’s been doing that since he was a freshman. It’s hard to imagine he’s only a junior, since he’s in his third year as a starter. And Jack is a very good fullback.”
Pinkerton’s defense was impressive throughout. The Astros allowed 218 total yards — but 91 of those yards came on Windham’s scoring drive in the game’s final two minutes against the Pinkerton reserves. Linebacker Picasso Bates added an interception.
For Windham, first-year starting QB Josh Sweeney threw for 148 yards, including a four-year touchdown to Jake Micciche. AJ Fox had an interception and Aidan Gross added a sack.
“There were mistakes on both sides of the ball,” said Jaguars coach Jack Byrne. “But it was the first game. We’ll work them out. In terms of effort, our guys never give up. Pinkerton is a very good team, no doubt. As far as attitude and effort, our guys gave their all.”
RELIVE THE ACTION
For video highlights from Pinkerton’s season-opening win over Windham, featuring every touchdown, visit eagletribune.com.
Pinkerton 33, Windham 6
Pinkerton (1-0): 7 13 13 0 — 33
Windham (0-1): 0 0 0 6 — 6
P — Jacob Albert 27 pass from Nathan Campos (Picasso Bates kick), 1:46
P — Albert 6 run (Bates kick), 3:06
P — Jack Mackiernan 1 run (kick failed), 2:04
P — Albert 75 run (Bates kick), 7:56
P — Mackiernan 2 run (kick failed), 3:02
W — Jake Micciche 4 pass from Josh Sweeney (no kick), 0:00
RUSHING: Pinkerton (44-306) — Jacob Albert 14-174, Cole Yennaco 11-80, Jack Mackiernan 6-20, Nathan Campos 6-9, Lorenzo Milana 5-17, John Hill 1-8, Tim Hersom 2-(-2); Windham (26-70) — Tiger An 4-14, Josh Sweeney 7-10, Kavi Patel 7-11, AJ Fox 3-3, Jake Miccihe 2-22, Dom Fiore 2-9, Sean Durham 1-1
PASSING: Pinkerton — Campos 1-7-1, 27, Joey Gallo 0-1-0; Windham — Sweeney 14-32-3, 148
RECEIVING: Pinkerton — Albert 1-27; Windham — Bryan Desmarias 5-80, Cole Peterson 3-32, Sam Dunham 3-29, Micciche 3-7