By Chris Paul
The Londonderry High School Football team is headed to the NHIAA Division I Semifinals after a convincing win over their cross-town rivals Pinkerton Academy on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 6.
The Lancers scored in each of the four quarters that afternoon and finished with a 25-13 victory.
The LHS squad will now be faced with defeating the only team they lost to this season. The Salem High School Blue Devils won their quarterfinal match-up with Bishop Guertin by scoring a staggering 61-points, at home, Saturday night.
The Lancers won the game despite being called for 13 penalties resulting in a total loss of 90-yards.
Londonderry kept the Astros scoreless in the first quarter, forcing a three-and-out in the first PA drive to start the game. Pinkerton’s punt put Londonderry at the midfield point to start their day.
Londonderry’s second play of the game was a 33-yard touchdown run by junior Andrew Kullman, but the play was called back for a holding penalty. Two more penalties followed in the opening drive and despite the infractions the Lancers marched down to the nine-yard line, where junior quarterback Drew Heenan ran in for the touchdown. Junior LHS kicker Dylan Wrisley missed on the extra point and the Lancers led 6-0.
Another PA drive was stopped quickly by the Londonderry defense, despite a long kick return by Pinkerton’s Jacob Albert.
The Astros fourth down attempt was foiled by a Hayden Austen tackle in the backfield for a loss, giving LHS the ball at their own 33-yardline.
After another holding penalty interrupted their second drive of the game, Heenan and Kullman combined for a huge passing play.
With 1:22 left in the opening quarter, Heenan completed a 61-yard unobstructed over-the-shoulder catch down the middle of the field to Kullman for the second touchdown of the game. The point after attempt by Wrisley was good for the 13-0 lead.
Pinkerton had a good drive to end the first quarter and to begin the second to cut their deficit to six-points. PA quarterback Nathan Campos completed a 13-yard pass to Logan Gokey and Picasso Bates kicked the extra point to put the game at 13-7.
Pinkerton was able to keep LHS out of the end zone in the following drive, in part by more penalties against the Londonderry offense and also with a foiled fourth down pass attempt in the enzone.
The Londonderry defense kept PA to minimal yardage in their next drive and got the ball back at their own 35-yard line with about three-minutes in the half.
Sophomore Jake Schena started that drive with a 65-yard touchdown run that was called back for a block in the back penalty.
Another pass completion from Heenan to Kullman, this time on third down and ten resulted in a 65-yard touchdown at 1:15 in the second. The score came from a screen pass at the Lancer 35-yard line with Kullman getting about 55-yards after the catch. Wrisley capped off the scoring in the first half with the extra point for a 20-7 Lancer lead despite nine LHS penalties.
The PA defense tightened up in the second half and only gave up five points.
The first was a 23-yard field goal by Wrisly giving LHS a 23-7 lead in the third.
The Astros got the score to within 10-points to end the third quarter with a 52-yard touchdown run for Jacob Albert.
Londonderry’s only other points came from their defense, foiling a Jacob Albert pass attempt out of the endzone with a Michael Sampson tackle.
Londonderry had 361-yards of total offense in the game and PA was held to just 230, 189 of the those yards came through the air for Londonderry.
Kullman had 126 receiving yards in two catches to lead the team and Salcito had one catch for 52-yards.
Heenan kept the ball 17 times and got 74-yards on the ground, Matthew Perron added 35-yards in five attempts and Trevor Weinnmann carried the ball three times for 24-yards.
With the win, Londonderry will host the semifinals against Salem on Saturday afternoon starting at 1 p.m.
Londonderry lost to the Blue Devils 35-21 in Salem on Oct. 22 in part due to five turnovers through interceptions and hope to correct that and the penalty issues they had in the quarterfinal win.