Roger Brown's First and 10: Concord, Pinkerton could clash again
Shortly after No. 1 Concord defeated No. 4 Pinkerton Academy 21-14 in overtime Friday night, a reporter approached Concord coach Eric Brown and asked him the following question: "Did the better team win tonight?"
There was a lengthy pause and some hesitation before Brown gave his answer.
"It's a great question," he said. "I'm going to say yes. We did it when it counted. We may see them again. (Pinkerton) is a good football team. I think we're pretty good and we made plays when we had to."
This much is clear: If there's a gap separating Concord (6-0) and Pinkerton (4-2), it's credit-card thin.
Pinkerton's defense appeared to have the game in hand. The Astros had a 14-6 lead late in the fourth quarter, and had sacked Concord quarterback Robbie Law four times in the second half.
Pinkerton's lead seemed safe until Law connected with Walter Szulc for a 50-yard pass play with just over a minute remaining in regulation. That led to a 13-yard TD pass from Law to Szulc with 51.1 seconds to play. Law's run on the two-point conversion attempt followed and tied the game.
The Crimson Tide defense stiffened in overtime. The Astros lost a yard on three running plays before Jack Hanaway's fourth-down pass to an uncovered Manny Latimore was deflected and fell to the ground.
"You have to give (Concord) credit because they did what they had to do, but we had this game locked up," Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly said. "We did not finish. We let this one get away from us.
"I will tell you that if there were any questions about whether we belong in the top with everyone else - of course we do. I always knew that. We will be there in November. They will be there in November. Whether we'll play each other I don't know.
"Big games are big games. They are playoff-atmosphere games, but they are not playoff games. There is a tomorrow."
Concord's next test will come Friday night, when it faces Bedford (6-0) at home. That game will likely feature the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in next week's Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll, which will be released Monday morning.
"I can't speak enough about our defense," Brown said. "I can't say enough about their defense as well. We're a pretty explosive offense and they contained us very well tonight. We were gritty when it counted."
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Portsmouth's 49-28 victory over St. Thomas of Dover on Friday night created a three-way tie at the top of the Division II East standings. Portsmouth, St. Thomas and Merrimack Valley are all 5-1, but the Clippers would win all of the tiebreakers since they also beat Merrimack Valley earlier this season.
Portsmouth trailed 14-0 after one quarter, but led 28-14 at halftime. St. Thomas allowed 41 points in its first five games, but surrendered 622 yards of offense to the Clippers.
Portsmouth quarterback Donovan Phanor completed 13 of 27 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns, and carried the ball 16 times for 163 yards and one TD.
One of the two playoff spots up for grabs in Division II East will likely be determined when Merrimack Valley plays at St. Thomas on Oct. 26.
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Londonderry is another team that took a giant step toward securing a playoff berth Friday, when it beat Merrimack 45-14.
The Lancers and Tomahawks are both 3-3 and trail only Pinkerton in the Division I South standings. Londonderry's victory will give the Lancers the tiebreaker edge over Merrimack if the teams finish with identical records.
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Quarterback Alex Parenteau rushed for 204 yards and four touchdowns in Keene's 30-19 triumph over Winnacunnet of Hampton on Friday night. ... Lebanon received three field goals from offensive tackle Grayson Hardy (33, 35 and 43 yards) in its 30-14 triumph over Hanover. Hardy has made five field goals this season. ... Central running back Jesiah Wade followed up last weekend's 556-yard rushing performance against Merrimack by running for 150 yards on 22 carries in Central's 33-6 victory over Manchester West on Friday. Wade scored two rushing TDs, caught a TD pass and returned a kick for a touchdown. ... Quarterback Trevor Knight rushed for 125 yards and three touchdowns on four carries in the third quarter of No. 3 Nashua South's 42-22 victory over Dover. Knight finished the game with 221 yards rushing as South improved to 6-0.
Roger Brown covers high school football for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @603sportsmedia.