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Sat, Nov 12, 2011 01:00 PM @ Pinkerton
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Salem 0 14 6 0 20
Pinkerton 6 13 6 13 38

Pinkerton surges late, returns to title game

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Saturday, November, 12 By David Willis
Staff writer

DERRY — For a fraction of a second, the football began to slip out of Ryan Coombs’ outstretched arms.

But it was comfortably tucked away before the diving Coombs hit the ground and was mobbed by teammates.

“Words can’t describe this,” said an emotional Coombs. “There is nothing better than fighting our way back into the championship game. Nothing compares.”

That catch capped a furious comeback that saw Pinkerton turn a six-point deficit into an 11-point lead in just 1:32 early in the fourth as the Astros punched their ticket to the title game with a 38-20 victory over the Blue Devils in the New Hampshire Division 1 semifinals yesterday afternoon.

“We’re headed back to the finals to defend our championship,” said fullback Kevin Davies. “This is right where we should be.”

The Astros will look to repeat as Division 1 champs when they host No. 2 Exeter in the title game on Saturday at noon. The Blue Hawks beat Nashua South yesterday.

“It’s incredible to be going back two years in a row,” said defensive back Andrew Curran. “For my last football game of ever, there isn’t a better way to end.”

With 1:27 to go in the third quarter, Abner Rodriguez gave Salem — which lost to Pinkerton 49-14 in the regular season — a 20-19 lead with a 2-yard touchdown.

“We could feel the momentum going their way,” said Davies. “I just looked at the guys and told them, ‘We have to get the game back on our side.’ And Manny (Latimore) went out and took the wind out of their sails.”

On Pinkerton’s first play following the score, speedy sophomore Latimore ran a sweep left and broke free for a 76-yard touchdown. Then, on the ensuing kickoff Alex Pachocha blasted the returner and Curran pounced on the ball.

“I saw the ball squirt out and I heard someone yell ‘Ball,’” said Curran. “I couldn’t tell if the returner was down, but I figured I’d better jump on it.”

Two plays later, Chris St. Onge lofted a ball into the end zone that Coombs hauled in with a lunging catch for the score.

“We really worked on our passing game all week,” said Coombs. “I bobbled it at first but secured it as I was going down. That really shifted the game. We just said, ‘Lets finish it here and get to the finals.’”

Davies was his dominant self, carrying 14 times for 151 yards and three touchdowns, including a 58-yard score in which he ran over three defenders. Latimore added 109 yards on just five carries.

“I thought we did what we had to do to make the game very close,” said Salem coach Jack Gati. “But they have the tools to make big plays, we all know that. And that turnover hurt us.”

Defending Eagle-Tribune All-Star Jerickson Fedrick (26-120, 2 TDs) and Rodriguez (18-96) both made plays to keep the Blue Devils in the contest through three quarters. But the Astros forced Salem into a three-and-out and two turnovers in the fourth.

Davies led Pinkerton with 11 tackles, while Matt St. Onge added seven stops and Matt Madden and Curran each had five tackles. St. Onge and Brett Stuart each chipped in with interceptions.

“We just knew we had to hit,” said Davies. “We had to hit and tackle.”

The Astros will now look for their second straight state title, against an Exeter team they beat 42-16 in the regular season. Pinkerton won three straight titles from 2006-08.

“We’re in the championship,” said coach Brian O’Reilly. “That is were we were expected to be. Now we have to defend out title.”


Game Statistics:

First Quarter

P — Matt St. Onge 4 run (kick failed), 5:43

Second Quarter

S — Jerickson Fedrick 1 run (run failed), 10:47

P — Kevin Davies  58 run (Ryan Day kick), 10:28

P — Davies 20 run (kick failed), 6:33

S — Fedrick 1 run (Abner Rodriguez run), 1:36

Third Quarter

S — Abner Rodriguez 2 run (run failed), 1:27

P — Manny Latimore  76 run (run failed), 0:54

Fourth Quarter

P — Ryan Coombs 23 pass from Chris St. Onge (run failed), 11:55

P — Davies 2 run (Day kick), 6:51



RUSHING: P (32-331) — Kevin Davies 14-151, Manny Latimore 5-109, Emmitt Smith 9-61, Matt St. Onge 1-4, Brett Connal 2-4, Chris St. Onge 1-2; S (51-252) — Jerickson Fedrick 26-120, Abner Rodriguez 18-96, Mike Downing 7-36

PASSING: P — C. St. Onge 1-3-0, 23; S — Jonathan Soldano 2-6-2, 15

RECEIVING: P — Ryan Coombs 1-23; S — Evan Breen 1-9, Fedrick 1-6

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