Antenucci delivers for Pingree
FOXBOROUGH — Sophomore Nick Antenucci returned a blocked field goal attempt 82 yards to lift Pingree to a 36-28 victory over Rivers in the NEPSAC’s Norm Walker Bowl at Gillette Stadium yesterday.
The score was tied, 28-28, with 11 seconds remaining when Benjamin Marcus’s 27-yard field-goal attempt for Rivers was blocked by Pingree’s Kyle Jamerson, who swatted the ball into the path of Antenucci.
“You’d think that all we’re trying to do is block the kick, right,’’ said Pingree coach Chris Powers. “And you never know how the ball is going to bounce. And then Nick sprints the whole way. That was opportunity right there.’’
Pingree trailed, 21-6, at the half, and Powers credits some adjustments and a pep talk to giving his team the edge.
“There’s been several times where we’ve scored 30 points in a quarter so what we told them is that they needed to be confident that we could get the points,’’ Powers said.
Powers said that the key adjustment was changing the position of his defense.
“We felt like we needed to get better control of the line of scrimmage and we backed our linebackers up a little bit because they were getting caught up with their linemen,’’ Powers said. “Their linemen are excellent. We felt like if we could back up the ball a little bit we could get some stops.’’
Rivers struck first when Nicholas Lund picked off a Brendan Oliver pass intended for Jamerson and returned it for a 34-yard score.
Red Wings running back Ben Patrick scored four minutes later with a 1-yard dive up the middle for a 13-0 lead.
Jamerson avenged the missed opportunity when he caught his first of two touchdown passes from Oliver from 32 yards out.
Robert Costa’s 6-yard touchdown run gave Rivers a 21-6 lead in the second quarter.
Both teams scored a touchdown in the third quarter, including Jamerson’s second reception from Oliver for an 8-yard score.
Taariq Allen ran in the final Rivers score from the 6-yard line at the end of the third quarter.
Allen, who was playing with a high ankle sprain, finished the game with 28 carries for 154 yards and a 35-yard kickoff return. The senior captain was slated to sit out most of the game but stepped up after Patrick suffered a game-ending hip injury in the final minute of the first quarter.
Pingree scored a trio of unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Will Walfield closed the gap to 28-20 when he caught a 43-yard pass from Oliver eight seconds into the fourth. Oliver connected with Colin Rossano for the 2-point conversion pass. Kenneth Adinkra rushed in a 1-yard score with six minutes left in the game. Antenucci caught a conversion pass from Oliver to tie up the game.
Rivers ate up six minutes on its final drive and made it to the 10-yard line before Marcus’s field goal attempt was blocked and Antenucci contributed the winning touchdown.
Rivers coach Richard Fisher is proud of his team, which he said bounced back from injuries and stayed competitive.
“I’m so proud of the kids to do what they did and for guys to play positions that they haven’t even played and have battled back and have a position to win the game,’’ Fisher said. “We didn’t make the plays in the end that we needed to. It’s unfortunate that they blocked the kick.’’
The Kraft family, owners of the Patriots, has strong ties to Rivers and donated Gillette’s facilities for the game.