By Pete Tarrier
I went into the Division I championship game between #2 Exeter and #1 Pinkerton simply hoping for a competitive match up. I thought if any team had what it took to at least keep it close against the high powered Astros it was Exeter with their run oriented, clock killing offense to go along with a downright stingy defense.
That being said, I fully expected Pinkerton to win and win somewhat comfortably because I thought they just had too much for the Blue Hawks to handle on both sides of the ball.
Instead, what we got on Saturday afternoon in Derry was a classic case of David slaying Goliath as Exeter took home the title with a 23-13 win.
Bill Ball’s team took it on the chin back on October 6th when Pinkerton rolled into Exeter and big-played their way to a resounding 42-16 victory. Oh how the tide has turned a month and a half later!
I don’t usually like to go all “if you take away this play or that play they really didn’t do a whole lot” on you. But in this case, it’s actually quite true. Outside of 2 2nd quarter Emmitt Smith touchdown runs of 77 and 78 yards that gave Pinkerton an early 13-3 lead, the Astros really didn’t do a whole lot. And you can credit the Exeter defense for that. Smith finished with 12 carries for 178, but when you do the math, outside of those 2 big TD’s, Exeter held Smith to only 33 yards total on his other 10 carries.
Throw in the fact that bruising runner Kevin Davies was held to just 7 rushes for 32 yards and Pinkerton’s other explosive RB Manny Latimore had all of 0 yards on 3 carries, and you shouldn’t be surprised that Exeter came away with an impressive and somewhat dominating 10 point win.
Exeter was also impressive on offense, as Tyler Grant ran 32 times for 120 and Conor Carrier had 71 yards and a touchdown on 8 carries. The 37 yard TD run by Carrier broke a 13-13 tie with 7:10 to play in the game and gave Exeter control of the contest.
On the previous play the Blue Hawks converted a HUGE 4th and inches on a Grant run up the middle to set up the heroics by Carrier which will now be remembered as one of the highlight plays of this 2011 championship season.
Kicker Logan Laurent was also a major factor, booting 3 field goals in the game (35, 40 and 23 yarders) and more importantly drilling all of his kickoffs for touch backs, preventing the return game of Latimore and Smith from even having the chance to hurt them.
The Exeter lines were solid on both sides of the ball, opening holes on offense and stuffing the Pinkerton run game on defense.
Blue Hawks quarterback Jamie Tymann, who normally is only asked to hand off also got involved in the act with a key 2nd quarter TD pass of 15 yards to TE Lucas Gajewski that closed the gap to 13-10 Pinkerton shortly before halftime. It was 1 of only 2 completions on the day for Tymann who was only asked to throw 5 times total in typical Exeter fashion.
I was able to catch up with coach Ball on his walk back to the team buses after all the on-field post-game hoopla had subsided. The longtime coach who now has won 6 titles at Exeter was obviously quite pleased with his team.
“Great effort by our guys today, they played well and we beat a great champion in Pinkerton" said Coach Ball. "We were fortunate to do that. Our kids deserve all the credit in the world. They came out down 13-3 and they never died. They stayed with the fight - a great victory for Exeter High School.”
Pete is a co-host of the ‘New Hampshire High School Football Show’, which airs Saturday mornings from 7-9 am on WGIR 610 AM, on the seacoast on 96.7 The The Wave and online at: http://www.wgiram.com/pages/nhhssports.html