By Dan Harrison Correspondent
The Salem News
---- — PEABODY — The Pingree football team routed Dexter Southfield 48-12 last night at Bishop Fenwick and now the Highlanders must wait and see if a fourth straight bowl game is in their future.
If last night’s blowout win turns out to be the Highlanders last in 2012, then senior quarterback Jerome Cappadona will remember his final game as one of his best performances on the gridiron.
Against a massive Dexter Southfield team, Cappadona threw for two touchdowns and rushed for three more while playing outstanding defense at corner back helping limit the opposing quarterback to only one completion on 13 attempts.
Pingree didn’t win the Evergreen League this year but they could earn a NEPSAC bowl-bid after finishing 7-2.
“If this ends up being his (Cappadona) last game, there’s not a better way for him to go out,” said Pingree coach Chris Powers. “He was fantastic tonight.”
Cappadona had touchdown runs of eight and nine yards before busting out the big one on a third-down quarterback sweep that went 68-yards up the right sideline. He was efficient and deadly in the passing game connecting on 13 of 19 passes including two touchdowns. Cappadona hit Alex Salalayko for an eight-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter before coming up with a big play right before the half. Cappadona extended a third-and-long weaving out of the pocket and just when it looked like he was going to tuck-it-and run, he pulled up and fired a perfect, 40-yard touchdown pass on the run to Justin Assad. The score put Pingree ahead 27-0 with just seconds left in the first half.
“That was definitely a dagger,” said Powers.
It was Cappadona’s night for sure, but it’s been Johnny Spears’ season at Pingree this fall. In the third quarter, Spears scored his second rushing score of the game when he took a handoff 51 yards down the right sideline for a Highlanders record 18 single-season touchdowns — and he only played in six games.
“It (breaking the record) was great. When I turned the edge I knew I was gone and I didn’t want to slow down at all so I kept my stride and just kept going,” said Spears, who doesn’t look physically imposing but can break tackles with the best of them.
I just stay low. I know I’m more athletic than them (the defense). A lot of guys think they are going to grab my jersey and I’m going to go down but I don’t like touching the ground at all. So I just keep going.”
Spears had 124 total yards of offense in the first quarter including a 39 yard touchdown run. He finished with 137 yards on just eight carries to go with 71 yards receiving on five catches.
The Dexter offensive and defensive lineman averaged about 6-feet, 6-inches, 300 pounds and certainly cast a big shadow. But size and mass don’t always translate and last night let the undersized Highlanders dictate the physicality.
“I thought run-game wise, they (Pingree) hit the holes that were there,” said Dexter coach Casey Day. “They’ve got some really good athletes who are really good open field runners. They took advantage of their opportunities today.”
The visitors looked poised to push Pingree around in the run game but decided to put the game on junior quarterback Luke Cuneo’s shoulders. Cuneo was coming off three straight games with over 300 yards passing but was just 1-of-13 for 15 yards on the game. Cappadona swatted away a fade-pass in the end zone on a fourth down play just before his touchdown pass to Assad.
Kevin Moyette and Justin Assad were terrific coming off the edge and getting pressure on Cuneo all game long.
Cuneo (five yards) and Joe Bramson (33 yards) had the Dexter touchdown runs in the second half.