EXETER — It may not have been the upset that it was a season ago, but that didn’t mean it hurt any less for Pinkerton Saturday afternoon.
For the second straight season, Pinkerton faced off against Exeter in the Division 1 state title game. And, for the second straight year, Exeter was able to use its bruising, straight-ahead offense and gritty defense to outlast the Astros and take home the title, this season earning a 31-21 victory at Eustis Field
“We gave it our all out there,” Pinkerton running back Manny Latimore said. “We played with passion, but a couple of mistakes cost us. That’s what happens. This one hurts.”
The Blue Hawks, the top seed this season, downed the No. 1-seed Astros in the Division 1 state title game at Pinkerton a season ago, just Exeter’s second in Division 1 after moving from Division 2 in 2010.
“This is really tough to take,” said Pinkerton linebacker Matt Madden, who missed the postseason with a torn ACL. “Our guys deserved this, and we really wanted to win it for the seniors. But Exeter went out, took the upper hand and came out on top. That is a very good team.”
But it was Latimore and Pinkerton that took the early advantage.
After forcing Exeter into a three-and-out, the Astros took over at their own 16-yard line. On first down, Latimore took a pitch to the left, juked a defender and turned on the jets for an 84-yard touchdown run to give Pinkerton a 7-0 lead with 4:31 to go in the first.
But back came Exeter. Employing their slug-it-out, between the tackles running game, the Blue Hawks drove 83 yards on 15 plays and James Vogt scored from 7 yards out to make it 7-7.
The Astros then fumbled the ball away on the first play of their ensuing possession and Exeter scored six plays later. Pinkerton’s Andrew Ong blocked the extra point to make it 13-7.