LONDONDERRY — Many, if not all, on this year’s Londonderry football team weren’t even alive the last time the program won a playoff game.
But that’s okay. These Lancers have become well-versed in how to break history this season.
Like the program’s win-less playoff drought that dated back to 2001. Well, that’s ancient history now after Londonderry routed archrival Pinkerton, 45-3, in Saturday’s Division 1 quarterfinal. And the fact that it was against the Astros — who held a 22-game winning streak over the Lancers until that too was broken earlier this year — well, that made it just a tad sweeter.
“(Beating Pinkerton) makes it a lot better,” said wideout Cole Keegan, who hauled in four passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding an interception, in the win. “We’re known for losing. So, to come out here and beat them, what was it, 45-3, it’s amazing.”
The top-seeded Lancers (10-0) have steamrolled their way into the semifinals, where they’ll host Salem on Saturday at 1 p.m.
“It feels great,” said quarterback Jake McEachern, who accounted for 194 all-purpose yards and four total TDs. “We’ve been waiting for this all season. We’ve worked out (butts) off over the offseason just for this. We’re finally here, and we’ve just got to go out and have a great week of practice.”
The game couldn’t have started any better for Pinkerton (6-4).
Facing the tall task of trying to pull the upset, the Astros received the opening kickoff and gave the ball to senior quad-captain Jake MacInnis. The 6-foot, 220-pounder barreled forward three straight times, picking up a first down, before it was Brady Day’s turn.
Pinkerton reached as far as the Londonderry 31-yard-line on that long, opening drive that kept the potent Lancer offense on the sideline. But, a fumble proved to be a killer.
And that was the trend for the Astros, who ended up turning the ball over six times all day.
“Today with the turnovers, that was the difference,” said Pinkerton coach Brian O’Reilly.
Even with the early momentum gone, the Astros forced Londonderry to a 3-and-out on their first possession. But, when the Astros were forced to punt on their next drive, the snap went well over the punter’s head, setting up the Lancers with excellent field possession.
Three plays later, McEachern was in for a 1-yard score.
The Astros drove right back down and got a 31-yard Brandon Roy field goal to make it 7-3, but the Londonderry offense finally woke up. The Lancers scored on their next three possessions before half, with McEachern hitting Keegan for a pair of touchdowns and senior running back Jeff Wiedenfeld bulldozing his way in from the 9, to make it 28-3 at the break.
And the second half was more of the same, with a Zach Fawcett field goal and McEachern’s third TD pass — 26 yards to Alex Tsetsilas — forcing running time late in the third quarter.
Pinkerton’s season comes to an end. But, after a 2-3 start, the Astros certainly didn’t give up.
“You can’t say it hasn’t been a positive year,” said O’Reilly. “This isn’t the way we wanted to finish out, but we made the playoffs again and it didn’t look like we were going to a month ago.”
Tyler Kayo finished the day’s scoring when he burst up the middle for a 42-yard TD late in the fourth quarter.
Londonderry, which has averaged 47.5 points per game this fall, will be heavy favorites against Salem. The Lancers beat the Blue Devils, 42-26, earlier in the year in what has been their closest game to date.
“It’s always a battle (playing Salem),” said Londonderry coach Jimmy Lauzon. “Our guys grew up playing against those guys in big games. So we’re very familiar with each other. It’s just going to be a hard-fought game between two tough teams.
“We’re expecting a war.”
Londonderry 45, Pinkerton 3
Pinkerton (6-4): 0 3 0 0 — 3
Londonderry (10-0): 7 21 10 7 — 45
L — Jake McEachern 1 run (Zach Fawcett kick), 2:55
P — Brandon Roy 31 field goal, 9:35
L — Cole Keegan 21 pass from McEachern (Fawcett kick), 4:04
L — Jeff Wiedenfeld 9 run (Fawcett kick), 1:54
L — Keegan 9 pass from McEachern (Fawcett kick), :23
L — Fawcett 26 field goal, 4:35
L — Alex Tsetsilas 26 pass from McEachern (Fawcett kick), 1:21
L — Tyler Kayo 42 run (Fawcett kick), 3:15
RUSHING: LONDONDERRY (30-204): Jeff Wiedenfeld 18-104, Jake McEachern 9-44, Tyler Kayo 1-42, Dylan McEachern 1-10, Eric Raza 1-4; PINKERTON (37-142): Jake MacInnis 11-52, Evan Wilson 4-36, Jacob Albert 6-23, Brady Day 8-17, Will Brown 3-10, David Clark 1-7, Cole Yennaco 1-3, Nathan Campos 1-1, Jack Mackiernan 1-0, Jeff Potvin 1-(-7)
PASSING: L — J. McEachern 11-15-0, 150; P — Potvin 2-7-2, 47
RECEIVING: L — Cole Keegan 4-57, Alex Tsetsilas 4-51, Raza 1-25, Wiedenfeld 1-17, Cameron Babine 1-0; P — Gavin Auger 1-27, Day 1-20