Knowing full well that his team has long been dominated by the defending Division I champion Pinkerton Academy Astros, Londonderry High School football coach Jimmy Lauzon took a novel approach to trying to be certain that his Lancers were in the proper frame of mind at the start of last Friday night’s 2015 Mack Plaque grid contest in Derry.
Lauzon had his gridders do their pre-game warm-ups at LHS, and the Lancers arrived at PA just before the coin-toss. In doing so, the young LHS leader made sure that his charges could go through their pre-game preparations focused, rather then seeing and hearing the Astros doing their prep work mere yards away.
“It’s no secret, they’re in our heads, and I just didn’t want my guys to look over during the pre-game and see those Pinkerton uniforms. I just wanted us to be able to do our thing,” said Lauzon.
The coach has been pleased with the work of his team’s defense this season, and he didn’t foresee undefeated Pinkerton (4-0) being able to muster as many points as it did in what turned out to be a 35-20 defeat of his now 1-3 Lancers.
Pinkerton received 180 rushing yards and a touchdown on 18 carries from senior running back Brett Dattilo.
The Mack Plaque game was played in front of 4,567 fans at Pinkerton.
The Lancers committed some miscues in the first 14 minutes of play, which gave their hosts great field position the first four times the Astros possessed the football.
The hosts began each of their first four offensive series on the Lancers’ side of the 50-yard-line, but the Londonderry defense stood up tall and repelled Pinkerton’s first two scoring drives.
The first of those series ended with a punt from the LHS 41, and the second came to a stop with a punt from the Londonderry 38.
The host team’s third offensive drive yielded a touchdown after beginning at the LHS 37. That series consisted of five plays and culminated with a 4-yard touchdown push by senior back James Tulley with just 18.2 seconds left in quarter number one.
The PA lead grew to 14-0 less than two minutes into the second quarter after the Lancers turned the football over on downs on their own 48. And Pinkerton covered those 48 yards on a single pass play, with quarterback Ryan Albrecht lofting a scoring pass to sophomore split end Kayden Baillargeon for six more PA points.
The academy squad’s lead then bulged to 21-0 with 5:57 remaining in the half on a 73-yard scoring sprint by Dattilo, who tallied more than 200 rushing yards and three touchdowns in helping his Astros to their defeat of Salem on the road the previous Saturday.
Londonderry grabbed a chunk of the momentum back with 4:01 to go in the half when quarterback Nick Stevens ran a 31-yard keeper into the end zone as the PA advantage was trimmed back to 21-7.
The Astros nearly had their lead up to 28-7 on a wide-open pass play in the last 20 seconds of the half, but that pass was dropped just outside of the Londonderry end zone and the score remained at 21-7 as the two teams adjourned for halftime.
Pinkerton had 204 yards worth of offense in the opening half – with Dattilo collecting 116 on just seven rushes – while the Lancers tallied 144 yards on offense during that same span.
The hosts advanced their lead to 28-7 when Baillargeon recovered the fumbled football in the end zone after his teammate Tulley had lost control of the ball just outside that end zone and accidentally kicked it into the zone.
And the visiting Lancers never got any closer than 15 points down during the remainder of the contest, despite serious efforts to do so.
Victorious Pinkerton finished the evening with 368 yards worth of offense – with 273 of those via the ground game – while Londonderry ended up with 299 offensive yards, 177 of which came via its passing game.
LHS quarterback Stevens, who didn’t start the game but relieved starter Ben Johnson during the first half, ended up completing 15 of the 20 passes he attempted for 169 yards and one touchdown.