By Matt Jenkins
---- — The boxscore shows that the Pingree football team's offense scored five touchdowns Saturday afternoon in their season opening victory. But the Highlanders' defense deserved almost as much credit for creating those points.
Pingree forced four turnovers, including three in the first half that resulted in a trio of touchdowns, and easily handled Portsmouth Abbey, 35-6.
"We took advantage of a couple of turnovers that gave us good field position," Pingree coach Chris Powers said. "We cashed in on them, fortunately."
Senior speedster Johnnie Spears ran for 116 yards on eight carries and scored on runs of 33 and 3 yards, all in the first half.
Pingree, which scored 28 points in the second quarter, also got a pair of TD runs from Sal Fazio (12 and 2 yards).
Justin Assad scored Pingree's other touchdown on a 22-yard pass from Griffin Beal. Erik Fyrer made all five extra points.
A good class of football players graduated from Pingree last year, but a group of experienced young players did return this fall.
"We played a lot of young kids last year. At one point we had seven freshmen on the field last year," Powers said. "They got a lot of reps in a variety of scenarios, including starting games. Now they're out there as sophomores with a little experience and we'll see how they mature."
Middle linebacker Kevin Moyette stood out for Pingree while the defensive ends, Assad and Nino Leone, were also excellent, according to Powers.
Tom Zaleski ran for 81 yards and Assad caught three passes for 41 yards. Beal completed 6 of 8 passes for 75 yards.
"It was a good opener, great to see us take advantage of opportunities," Powers said. "The defense played outstanding. They held them to two first downs in the first half and one was on a penalty. They did a really nice job start to finish."