Pinelands Football Team Wins Second Consecutive Game

Oct 12, 2016

The Pinelands Regional High School football team is on a winning streak after beating Donovan Catholic, 22-20 on Friday evening.

True, it is only a two-game streak. But that is more games than the Wildcats have won in a row since at least 2010.

Pinelands opened the scoring on Friday when Jason Jeannotte kicked a 30-yard field goal in the first quarter.

In the same quarter Donovan Catholic went ahead 7-3 when Matt Baltus broke loose for a 33-yard touchdown run and Sal DiSalvo added the extra point. But it would be a long time before the Griffins would score again.

Evan Burtton put Pinelands ahead again in the second quarter when he ran five yards for a TD. Pinelands went for a two-point conversion and failed, making the score 9-7 at halftime.

In the third quarter Burtton struck again, this time on a 35-yard TD run. Jeannotte added the extra point. In the fourth Kyle Hehre plunged for a one-yard touchdown but once again the conversion was unsuccessful. Still, Pinelands was up 22-7.

But Baltus scored his second touchdown of the evening and DiSalvo kicked his second extra point to narrow the Wildcat lead to 22-14. Then Donovan Catholic QB Ryan Clark turned a 15-yard keeper into a TD.

Remember those two Pinelands missed two-point conversions? They came back to threaten the Wildcats because they had left the Griffins trailing by just two points. The Pinelands defense, however, was up to the task when DC attempted its own two-point conversion and salted away the win.

Burtton led all runners with 142 rushing yards on 23 touches. But Donovan Catholic, which fell to 0-5 for the season, actually ran for more yards than Pinelands, gaining 233 on the ground with Clark (13 carries for 127 yards) and Baltus (18 carries for 91 yards) leading the way while Burtton, Hehre, Brennan Richardson and QB Garrett Brown accounted for 176 yards for the Wildcats.

Pinelands, though, won the air game, a rather stunning development for a team that typically lives or dies with the run. Brown had four completions on six attempts for 90 yards while DC’s Clark had five completions on 11 attempts for just 38 yards. Chris Lewis was Brown’s favorite receiver, racking up 82 yards on three catches; Tommy Madge caught one pass for eight yards.

So, Pinelands has two wins in a row. And here’s the kicker – the Wildcats have a legitimate chance to stretch that win streak to four.

Their next opponent will be Manchester at 7 p.m. on Friday Oct. 21. The two teams have identical 2-3 records. But the Wildcats beat the Hawks the past two years, 33-6 in 2014 and 28-21 in 2015. Manchester will have the home field advantage, but Pinelands will have the benefit of a bye week, giving its players a chance to heal any dings they may have and coach Brian Wilkinson two weeks to come up with a winning game plan.

The following week the ’Cats will visit Jackson Liberty, a team that hasn’t won a game in 2016.

A four-game win streak and a 4-3 record for Pinelands? That was unimaginable a few years ago but a serious possibility now.

— Rick Mellerup

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