HAVERHILL – Having posted three shutouts in its first four games, the Salem defense already had proven itself formidable. Saturday afternoon at Trinity Stadium, the Blue Devils showed just how forbidding they can be against one of the state’s perennial offensive powers.
Holding Pinkerton to only two first downs for more than 35 minutes, Salem turned two long offensive possessions into a 12-0 victory -- it’s fourth straight regular-season win over the Astros.
“Our kids played well,” said Salem coach Rob Pike, whose squad has outscored opponents by a combined 149-42 en route to a 4-1 mark. “I thought our kids did a good job of answering the challenge, so I’m proud of them. It all comes down to execution, and the kids have been playing well, making plays when we need to. We have a lot of good players there on defense. That helps.
“I don’t know if you anticipate four shutouts, but we knew we had good players. They’re coachable, they do their jobs well and they tackle well, so we knew we had a good chance to be a good (defense).”
It was the first time in 37 games since Pinkerton was last shutout, in a 10-0 loss to Exeter in the 2015 state championship match. It was Pinkerton’s second shutout in 177 games since a 28-0 loss to Concord on Nov. 6, 2003.
The Astros began the game without quarterback Jeff Potvin and two-way player Jacob Albert, who both suffered concussions in a loss to Londonderry a week earlier. Against Salem, Pinkerton played the second half without running back/linebacker Jake MacInnis (the team’s leading rusher) and center/defensive tackle Thomas Macdonald, who both left with ankle sprains.
“You do what you can,” Pinkerton coach Brian O’Reilly said of the injuries. “You put in who you can, and you hope the ones who are replacing them can do somewhat the same job. Obviously, today we could not establish the line of scrimmage for the first time in many, many years.
“I don’t even know the last time we were shut out. Honestly, we could have another two, three or four quarters and I don’t know that we would have gotten (a score). Some credit goes to Salem’s defense, but honestly it was just a struggle today.”
Salem took the lead with 31 seconds left in the half. A 1-yard Josh Maroun plunge capped a 15-play, 78-yard drive that lasted 7:19. An almost identical drive (15 plays, 79 yards, 7:23) with its second possession after intermission provided a 12-0 lead. Maroun scored from 5 yards out with 34 seconds left in the third.
“Even though (the Astros) knew the plays, we just kept going and going, working hard,” said Maroun, who ran for a game-high 121 yards on 21 carries. “We deserved this one because we worked hard all week.”
The Blue Devils held Pinkerton to 110 yards on 34 rushes and 147 yards total offense. By the time the Astros picked up their third first down with 20 seconds left in the third, Salem had compiled 18 of them.
“We prepared really well,” said linebacker Noah Poulin, who had two sacks. “We prepared really well. It just came down to us doing our assignments. If we went full speed at them, we knew we could put them back. You never expect to shut down a good team like that, but our defense is just getting better and better every game.”
Salem 12, Pinkerton 0
Pinkerton (2-3): 0 0 0 0 — 0
Salem (4-1): 0 6 6 0 — 12
S — Josh Maroun 1 run (run failed) 0:31
S — Maroun 5 run (run failed) 0:34
RUSHING: Pinkerton (34-110) — Brady Day 9-47, Jake MacInnis 5-34, Hayden Shattuck 5-11, David Clark 7-6, Will Brown 2-5, Elijah Chantasiri 1-4, Evan Wilson 4-4, Cole Yennaco 1-(-1); Salem (51-215) — Maroun 21-121, Riley Mulvey 11-52, Brandon Wall 9-35, Jacob Brady 3-12, Kaleb Bates 7-(-5)
PASSING: Pinkerton — Shattuck 2-8-0, 37 yards; Salem — Bates 4-6-0, 38
RECEIVING: Pinkerton — Day 2-37; Salem — Mulvey 2-19, Mike Ference 1-10, John Bennett 1-9