Pingree — playing its first-ever game on Thanksgiving — cut into the lead with a short, penalty-plagued possession that ended with Justin Assad scoring on a 3-yard run.
The Highlanders, who came into the game averaging 44 points a game, then provided a glimpse of how explosive they can be. After Fenwick’s Brandon DeBerardinis scored on a 2-yard run, Pingree senior speedster Johnnie Spears took the ensuing kickoff back 97 yards for a touchdown.
The visitors from South Hamilton then forced a fumble and Spears covered 57 yards on two plays — the first on a 38-yard catch-and-run, then scoring on a 19-yard run with only four seconds remaining in the half. The Highlanders led, 20-16, at the break.
“We had him at the 10 (on the kickoff) and the other touchdown we had him wrapped up. It was a combination of him being a real good player and us not really prepared to play at a high intensity level,” Fenwick coach Dave Woods said.
“We weren’t swarming to the ball. It looked like, ‘Oh, Nick’s got him tackled’, so everybody kind of let up a little bit. (But) in the second half we played much better and swarmed to the ball.”
Pingree managed 111 yards of offense in the second half, with the majority coming on Beal’s 63-yard touchdown pass to Assad. But Fenwick’s bend-but-don’t-break defense was definitely on display.
Fenwick also did a much better job controlling the clock, moving the chains and producing points. Junior Robert Carrillo (12 carries, 62 yards) scored a pair of 11-yard TDs and Bona iced the game with a 5-yard touchdown run with 3:45 to go.
Bona had a 31-yard run on Fenwick’s first scoring drive of the second half. He connected with Eric Razney on a 34-yard pass down the sideline to set up Carrillo’s second score. Then, he broke a 43-yard run before calling his own number again on 1st-and-goal late in the fourth quarter.