Special Feature: Homepage Story

Pinkerton pounds Bedford to win state title

DURHAM, N.H. — Bryson Pacocha, the mountain of a man, was reduced to a pile of emotions.
The hulking 6-foot-3, 230-pound monster knelt on the ground, tears flowing uncontrollably down his face and onto the Cowell Stadium turf as his teammate jumped for joy and took turns hugging him.
“I have never felt anything like this,” said the senior lineman. “I had to win, we had to win. It hurt me inside to lose those last three title games, so we had to have this. Tears started coming and I had no way to stop them. I just couldn’t believe it. We are No. 1!”
After three seasons of heartbreak, Pinkerton returned to its traditional throne atop the New Hampshire football world, pummeling fellow unbeaten Bedford 37-0 to take home the Division 1 state championship Saturday night at the University of New Hampshire.
“Feels amazing,” said Astros quarterback Jack Hanaway, who lives in Bedford. “After so much heartbreak, to go out and not just win it but take it by 37 points is terrific. You can’t even measure how much we wanted this one. We have worked for this for four years, we were so committed and we went out today and we did it.”
It was especially meaningful for the Astros after losing the last three Division 1 state title games, twice to Exeter and one to Concord.
“There is no better words than (state title),” said tri-captain Justin Poitras. “We went through the disappointment, but we used it as fuel. When we stepped into this game, losing  was not an option. We didn’t consider it.
“Those last three years in the state title game were the worst feeling, and this, winning the title, is the best.”
And the Astros didn’t just win the title, they demolished Bedford on the way to the championship and a perfect 12-0 season.
“This is an undefeated team we took on,” said Pacocha. “But we came out and we pounded them. And we just kept pounding and we didn’t stop until we had the scoreboard up and the time was ticking down. Once we got there we knew we were going to be state champions.”
Urbanik delivers
It was another marvelous day for Astros running back T.J. Urbanik, who ran over and past Bedford on the way to a stunning 247 yards on 21 carries and a pair of touchdowns including a 94-yard masterpiece.
As a defensive back, Urbanik also grabbed a pair of interceptions as the Astros took a commanding 23-0 halftime advantage.
“What a fantastic day,” said Urbanik, a junior. “I never could have imagined I would have this kind of day. Everyone on this team is a hero to me. The interceptions were big because they gave us momentum out of the gates.
“Our plan was to run the ball and just pound them. We were going to get physical. On the (94-yard) score I saw a perfect hole and just turned on the jets.”
But Urbanik wasn’t alone in the utter domination.
Hanaway, facing his hometown school, rushed for three touchdowns including a highlight-reel score in which he was hammered by a pair of defenders, but somehow managed to split them, stay on his feet and waltz into the end zone.
“We were so focused and so dedicated to finishing this off,” said the QB, who needed to throw the ball just four times. “We felt like that was a good team, but we were able to get out fast and we finished strong like we always have.
“T.J.’s 94-yard touchdown was incredible and really sealed the game for us. He was terrific.”
Defense dominates back-up
As dominant as the offense was, the defense was just as unstoppable.
The Astros allowed Bedford 130 yards of total offense, including just 43 on the ground on 19 tries.
Missing star QB Mike Vailas, who was lost for the season with an injury early in the postseason, Bulldogs backup Tyler Cibotti was overmatched by the attack of the Astros. Cibotti, who had been moved from wide receiver, was limited to just 8 of 23 passing with three interceptions (Urbanik 2, Brett Datillo).
Senior linebacker Peter Cyr led the Pinkerton defense with eight tackles, while Michael Martinoli made five stops.
Pacocha had the lone sack of the game, bursting through the middle to envelop Cibotti for a 12-yard loss. He also utilized his impressive length to knock down two passes.
“It is crazy,” said Cyr. “We always felt like this day would come, but we didn’t know when. We had the chance today and we took hold of it. We had to stop the cycle of losing title games. We were confident and we were ready to go. Getting those three interceptions was huge.”
Tremendous start
Pinkerton wasted no time taking charge, as Urbanik picked off his first pass of the day on the game’s third play. Eight plays later he gave the Astros the lead with a 15-yard touchdown run.
A three-and-out later and Pinkerton was back in control, adding to their lead with a Kyle Cantalupo 36-yard field goal.
The defensive stops kept coming, and Hanaway made it 17-0 by first hitting Austin Whitehead on a 17-yard pass to the 1-yard line, then diving in for a score.
Any hope of a Bedford rally was squashed when Dattilo picked off a pass and Hanaway rushed for another touchdown just before halftime.
“We have been waiting for this day our whole lives,” said Hanaway. “When we started playing football as 7-year-olds we dreamed of this. Doing this the last game of our high school careers is pretty great.”
The Astros then enjoyed a long celebration on the UNH field before escaping the cold.
“Best thing in the world,” said Poitras. “We have wanted this for so many years, and now we have finally done it. It’s just the best.”

Pinkerton 37, Bedford 0
First Quarter
P — T.J. Urbanik 15 run (Kyle Cantalupo kick), 7:34
P — Cantalupo 36 field goal, 4:37
Second Quarter
P — Jack Hanaway 1 run (Cantalupo kick), 8:18
P — Hanaway 18 run (kick failed), 0:27
Third Quarter
P — Urbanik 94 run (Cantalupo kick), 0:07
Fourth Quarter
P — Hanaway 4 run (Cantalupo kick), 6:10
RUSHING: Pinkerton (57-375) — T. J. Urbanik 21-247, Michael Curley 9-31, Jack Hanaway 12-38, Brett Dattilo 1-16, Peter Cyr 4-20, Nico Buccieri 6-14, Matt Newman 3-5, Brad McColligan 1-4; Bedford (19-61) — Austin D’Anjou 4-29, Colin Cashin 7-17, Sean Tierny 3-11, Taylor Larson 1-0, Tyler Cibotti 4-4
PASSING: P — Jack Hanaway 2-4-0, 38; Bedford — Cibotti 8-23-3, 77, D’Anjou 1-1-0, 10
RECEIVING: P — Urbanik 1-21, Austin Whitehead 1-17; Bedford — Andrew Penaskovic 4-34, Cashin 2-38, Tom Reynolds 2-13, Eric Glassman 1-2

David Willis is a sportswriter/videographer for The Eagle-Tribune. Reach him on twitter at @DWillisET

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