DERRY, N.H. -- Saturday afternoon's 21-14 victory over Pinkerton Academy not only breathed some life into the Brockton High School football team, it saved Brockton coach Peter Columbo some money as well.
As Columbo noted after the game, the victory came on a day when his father, former Brockton coach Armond Columbo, celebrated his 80th birthday.
“That's all he wanted was a win, so now I don't have to buy him anything,” the younger Columbo said.
Junior quarterback Austin Roberts provided a spark for the Boxers, who entered the contest with a 2-3 record. Roberts, who was inserted the lineup when starting quarterback Paul Mroz was injured during last weekend's victory over Fitchburg, completed 14 of 22 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns. He seemed to come up with a big play whenever Brockton needed one.
“[Roberts] has emerged,” Columbo said. “He had to start some games two years ago as a freshman. Paul came out of nowhere last year and led us to eight wins, and [Roberts], to his credit, kept working and waiting for his turn, and it came up last week.
“He's a great leader. He knows our system and he knows how to make plays. I can't coach what he does once the ball's in play. We're gonna ride it.”
After Pinkerton fullback Kevin Davies scored on a 1-yard run to help the Astros build a 14-7 lead early in the third quarter, Roberts responded by throwing two touchdown passes to senior Jerrod Shelby. Shelby's second touchdown catch came on a 3-yard pass with 3:45 to play.
“Get the ball to you playmakers I guess,” Roberts said. “He's a great playmaker.
“We all talked about how great of a team Pinkerton is. We knew if we could come out and beat them it was going to send a message to all of Massachusetts that we're back and we're rolling.”
Pinkerton took the lead when Davies scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter, but Brockton answered when Roberts hooked up with Lucas Depina for a 60-yard touchdown pass with 10:34 left in the half.
“We feel good because that's a great football team,” Columbo said. “I don't know who's gonna contest them up here. We knew that we needed to make a statement that we can play with the good teams.”
THE BIG PLAY
Pinkerton, the No. 3 team in ESPN Boston's New England top 10, shredded the Brockton defense when it opened the third quarter with a six-play, 79-yard scoring drive that handed the Astros a 14-7 lead.
Pinkerton was on the move again the next time it had the ball, but a personal foul resulted in a 15-yard penalty after the Astros had moved the ball to the Brockton 22-yard line. The drive stalled when Pinkerton failed to convert on a fourth-and-nine play.
Brockton took possession on its own 18 and moved the ball 82 yards on 20 plays to tie the game.
“We came out in the second half and were able to motor right down the field, and we did it again until we got that 15-yard penalty,” Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly said. “[The penalty] was the biggest play in the game because of that fact that it stalled us and then they went on a 20-play drive.”
Brockton converted on three fourth-down plays during the 82-yard drive. One of the conversions was a 10-yard run by Roberts on a fourth-and-10 play. Roberts extended the ball forward as he was falling to the ground and picked up the first down by about two inches.
“Give them credit,” O'Reilly said. “They kept going for it on fourth down … and made them all.”
Pinkerton entered the game with a 6-0 record and had outscored those six opponents 251-50. The Astros had scored at least 41 points in each of their five league games.
Pinkerton had 14 plays of 10 yards or more against Brockton, but none of those were scoring plays.
“This is the first team to adjust to our offense,” O'Reilly said. “Defensively they did some nice things against us. They did some stuff that no one else has done. People will try to copy it, so we'll need to take it to the next level.”
FEELING NO PRESSURE
O'Reilly said an ability to put pressure on Roberts hurt his team.
“We knew that [Roberts] brought an entirely new dimension to the Brockton team,” he said. “He is a difference maker. Had they gone with the original quarterback you wouldn't have seen this today. We couldn't get any pressure on him. We're gonna have to work on some pass-rushing situations because there was way too much time for him to throw the ball.
“We didn't get any heat on him and when we did have a chance to sack him he ran around our ends. He was the difference today.”
Brockton has won nine of the last 10 meetings with Pinkerton. The Boxers have a 12-4 edge in the series, which began in 1996.
BROCKTON 21, PINKERTON 14
Brockton (3-3) 0 7 0 14
Pinkerton (6-1) 7 0 7 0
PA – Kevin Davies 1 run (Ryan Coombs kick), :58
Bro-- Lucas Depina 60 pass from Austin Roberts (Depina kick), 10:34
PA—Davies 1 run (Coombs kick), 10:18
Bro—Jerrod Shelby 3 pass from Roberts (Depina kick), 9:50
Bro—Shelby 3 pass from Roberts (Depina kick), 3:45.