Pinkerton Astros Football '07

Sat, Nov 17, 2007 12:30 PM @ Nashua South
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Playoff Game
Pinkerton 7 7 0 0 14
Nashua South 0 0 0 2 2
Pinkerton 14 Nashua South 2 » Roger Darrigrand, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Defending their title Pinkerton's D dominates title game

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Saturday, November, 17 By David Willis
Staff writer

NASHUA | Senior Josh Lane described the performance the way everyone in attendance was thinking.

"We're Pinkerton," said the offensive/defensive lineman between hugs from teammates and family members. "We get it done every time."

And get it done the Astros did in the 14-2 win over Nashua South that gave Pinkerton its third straight Division 1 state title. And there was no doubt how coach Brian O'Reilly's team finished the job.

"The defense really stepped up and was awesome all day," said senior linebacker/fullback Mike Crupi. "They said they could run it down our throats during the week, and they couldn't today. It just wasn't going to happen."

Unlike previous seasons, this year's Pinkerton team wasn't built to blow teams away with offense. It was defense that brought the Astros to the state championship, and it was the defense that won it for them.

"We just love defense," said defensive back Steve Eurieck. "We wanted to perform after last time and we knew they had good running backs. We had a couple of knockdowns and we minimized mistakes. I couldn't be more excited."

And the Astros were never better then when they were against the wall.

Seven times in the game, the Purple Panthers drove inside the Pinkerton 35-yard line, and seven times they were turned away without points. On two of those drives, Nashua South made it inside the 10-yard line. But on the first, the Astros forced a missed field goal, and Justin Demers knocked down a fourth down pass on the other.

"You get a little extra edge in the red zone," said Crupi. "You have to play with a little more intensity. We play closer to the line, and there is no way that we are going to let them in."

The Astros played with plenty with intensity all day. Eurieck set the tone early when he cleaned out a receiver who had reached up to catch a high pass, and his teammates followed by physically pounding the Purple Panthers for 48 minutes. The results showed in the form of running backs running out of bounds and receivers becoming tentative as the game wore on.

"We were going to hit them as hard as possible," said O'Reilly. "We brought more intensity to the game and we gang tackled and brought as many helmets to the ball as possible."

Pinkerton knew what the Nashua South offense could do. The Panthers accumulated 172 rushing yards on their way to snapping the Astros' 22-game New Hampshire unbeaten streak with a 30-7 win on Nov. 4.

And that was not going to happen again.

After using only four linemen two weeks ago, Pinkerton switched to a five-man line yesterday, and brought the defensive backs up to support against the run. The switch worked, as the Astros allowed only 90 yards rushing on 35 carries.

"We stuck their backs and our line just played great," said Crupi. "They couldn't get anything on us today." The crowd was peppered with fans wearing "(Pete) Mazzola for Heisman" shirts, and their favorite player did not disappoint.

The senior defensive back made eight tackles, giving him 55 for the season. He added four passes knocked down, including a pair on fourth-down plays that ended drives. That to go with his 2-for-2 passing day.

Senior linebacker Fred Larson added a team-best nine stops while Lane led the line with six. Crupi had five, giving him a team-high 94 stops for the year, and Chris George had four.

"We wanted to come out with an attitude and stick them in the mouth," said Mazzola. "Compared to last time, I'd say we shut them down completely. We're always confident, and when we went out we knew what was going to happen."

That aggressiveness did allow Nashua South QB Billy Ferriter to complete a few long passes. But Pinkerton came up big when it needed to, and held him without a completion on his final five throws.

The Astros did have their shutout snapped with 3:06 left when Pinkerton offense took a safety instead of trying to punt from their end zone. But the defense did not allow a point in a state title game for the second time in three years, along with the 7-0 win over Salem two years ago. And a few points didn't ruin the fun.

"Today we came out with more emotions and more intensity," said Crupi. "It was the state championship and we weren't going to let it slip away."

After all, they're Pinkerton.

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