LONDONDERRY — The game couldn’t have started any better for Pinkerton.
Facing the tall task of trying to upset top-seeded and undefeated Londonderry in Saturday’s Division 1 quarterfinal, the Astros received the opening kickoff and gave the ball to senior quad-captain Jake MacInnis. The 6-foot, 220-pounder barreled forward three straight times, picking up a first down, before it was Brady Day’s turn.
Pinkerton reached as far as the Londonderry 31-yard-line on that long, opening drive that kept the potent Lancer offense on the sideline. But, a fumble ended any semblance of early momentum.
That unfortunately was the trend for the Astros, who turned the ball over six times in what ended up being a 45-3 decisive loss to their archrivals. And against a team as talented as the Lancers (10-0) are this year, just one turnover is costly enough.
“Today with the turnovers, that was the difference,” said Pinkerton coach Brian O’Reilly.
Saturday marked Londonderry’s first playoff win since 2001. Earlier in the year, the Lancers broke their 22-game losing streak against their rival Astros, but Saturday’s win felt a whole lot sweeter. Especially when you consider that last year, the Astros upset the Lancers in this same game.
“If there was ever a silver lining to playing them in the first round it’d be that our guys are focused,” said Londonderry coach Jimmy Lauzon. “You know, it’s Pinkerton, and you’re not going to overlook these guys.”
Even with the early momentum gone, the Astros (6-4) forced Londonderry to a 3-and-out on their first possession. But, when the Astros were forced to punt on their next drive, the snap went well over the punter’s head, setting up the Lancers with excellent field possession.
Three plays later, quarterback Jake McEachern was in for a 1-yard score.
The Astros drove right back down and got a 31-yard Brandon Roy field goal to make it 7-3, but the Londonderry offense finally woke up. The Lancers scored on their next three possessions before half, with McEachern hitting Cole Keegan for a pair of touchdowns and senior running back Jeff Wiedenfeld bulldozing his way in from the 9 to make it 28-3 at the break.
The second half was more of the same, with a Zach Fawcett field goal and McEachern’s third TD pass — 26 yards to Alex Tsetsilas — forcing running time late in the third quarter.
Londonderry will now host Salem in the semifinals on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Lancers beat the Blue Devils, 42-26, earlier in the year.
Pinkerton’s season comes to an end. But, after a 2-3 start, the Astros certainly didn’t give up.
“You can’t say it hasn’t been a positive year,” said O’Reilly. “This isn’t the way we wanted to finish out, but we made the playoffs again and it didn’t look like we were going to a month ago.”
Londonderry 45, Pinkerton 3
Division 1 Quarterfinals
Pinkerton (6-4): 0 3 0 0 — 3
Londonderry (10-0): 7 21 10 7 — 45
L — Jake McEachern 1 run (Zach Fawcett kick), 2:55
P — Brandon Roy 31 field goal, 9:35
L — Cole Keegan 21 pass from McEachern (Fawcett kick), 4:04
L — Jeff Wiedenfeld 9 run (Fawcett kick), 1:54
L — Keegan 9 pass from McEachern (Fawcett kick), :23
L — Fawcett 26 field goal, 4:35
L — Alex Tsetsilas 26 pass from McEachern (Fawcett kick), 1:21
L — Tyler Kayo 42 run (Fawcett kick), 3:15
RUSHING: LONDONDERRY (30-204): Jeff Wiedenfeld 18-104, Jake McEachern 9-44, Tyler Kayo 1-42, Dylan McEachern 1-10, Eric Raza 1-4; PINKERTON (37-142): Jake MacInnis 11-52, Evan Wilson 4-36, Jacob Albert 6-23, Brady Day 8-17, Will Brown 3-10, David Clark 1-7, Cole Yennaco 1-3, Nathan Campos 1-1, Jack Mackiernan 1-0, Jeff Potvin 1-(-7)
PASSING: L — J. McEachern 11-15-0, 150; P — Potvin 2-7-2, 47
RECEIVING: L — Cole Keegan 4-57, Alex Tsetsilas 4-51, Raza 1-25, Wiedenfeld 1-17, Cameron Babine 1-0; P — Gavin Auger 1-27, Day 1-20