NASHUA — Pinkerton’s Don Terrio had waited his entire career for the ball to be in his hands, and when the moment arrived, he took full advantage.
“I hadn’t touched the ball all season before that kickoff,” said Terrio, a senior, with a smile. “I saw an opening, and as soon as I hit that seam I thought to myself, ‘You can’t get caught, you have to score.’ and when I got to the end zone, I was happier than I ever had been.”
Terrio fielded the game’s opening kickoff and ran it back 76 yards for a touchdown, giving Pinkerton a lead it would never surrender on the way to defeating Bishop Guertin 22-12 on Saturday night.
Both squads entered the game 5-1, with Pinkerton ranked No. 4 and Bishop Guertin No. 5 in the Union Leader’s state-wide power poll.
“It was a hard-fought, good win,” said Astros standout linebacker Jack Mackiernan, who had missed the last two weeks with an ankle injury. “We know we’re going to play BG again in the playoffs. So we wanted to come in and set the tone that we are the better team, and I think we did that today.”
The game started with a bang for Terrio, who had never tallied a varsity carry in his Pinkerton career, according to Eagle-Tribune records.
“I had waited for this chance for four years,” said Terrio, a starting defensive back who was filling in for injured star Jacob Albert as kick returner. “I was trying to psych myself up as much as possible before the return so I could run as fast as I could. As soon as I hit that hole I never looked back. I was on top of the world. There is no better feeling. I feel like it gave the team so much momentum.”
Mackiernan agreed the kick return was a huge play.
“We were so happy for Don,” said the linebacker. “He’s so quick, so when he got the ball and started running you knew he was going to the house. We came out dry last week, and this week that kick return set the tone for us. It really got our energy going.”
After forcing Bishop Guertin into a turnover on downs, the Astros added to their advantage in their first offensive possession. Running back Cole Yennaco broke a 29-yard run, setting up his own 1-yard touchdown run.
The Astros made it 22-6 on the first drive of the second half, when sophomore Caden Michaud broke a 51-yard touchdown run.
Bishop Guertin responded to make it 22-12, then twice advanced inside the Pinkerton 30-yard line in the fourth quarter. But both times, Pinkerton forced the Cardinals to turn the ball over on downs. Yennaco knocked a pass down to end one drive, and Michaud had the intended receiver blanketed on the final play on the second.
Yennaco ran for a team-high 80 yards on 12 carries, while Terrio added 27 rushing yards filling in at fullback. Coach Brian O’Reilly said he was hopeful top running back Albert could be healthy enough to play in the playoffs.
Leading the defense were Yennaco (8 tackles), Anthony Terrenzio (7 tackles) and Ryan Placey (sack).
“BG has big linemen and they run very hard,” said Mackiernan. “But we’re also tough. We have a few things to work on, but we’re feeling good.”
Pinkerton 22, Bishop Guertin 12
Pinkerton (6-1): 8 7 7 0 — 22
Bishop Guertin (5-2): 0 6 6 0 — 12
First Quarter P — Don Terrio 76 kickoff return (Nathan Campos rush), 11:50
P — Cole Yennaco 1 run (Picasso Bates kick), 9:51
BG — Matt Santosuosso 60 run (kick failed), 9:01
Third Quarter P — Caden Michaud 51 run (Bates kick), 8:12
BG — Gavin Bombara 34 pass from Santosuosso (pass failed), 1:01
RUSHING: Pinkerton (26-197) — Cole Yennaco 11-80, Caden Michaud 1-51, Nathan Campos 6-21, Don Terrio 6-27, Picasso Bates 2-18; Bishop Guertin (41-190) — Matt Santosuosso 24-148, Ethan Chmielecki 12-30, Marcel Vernon 5-12
PASSING: Pinkerton — Campos 2-6-0, 35; BG — Santosuosso 12-20-0, 116
RECEIVING: Pinkerton — Caden Michaud 1-25, Logan Gokey 1-10; BG — Chase Amaral 6-27, Cody Szymansky 3-34, Gavin Bombara 2-47, Chmielecki 1-8