By John Wayne Ferguson
---- — WEST NEWBURY — With nothing left to play for after yesterday’s game, a pair of Sachem seniors led the way to victory with a punishing ground attack against the one-win Vikings.
Cody Rothwell scored three touchdowns and racked up 251 yards in his final game for Pentucket (6-5), while backfield mate Connor McGuirk added two more rushing scores as Pentucket defeated Triton 41-12 on Thanksgiving Day.
Pentucket has now won eight of the last 10 Thanksgiving matchups between the teams and leads the all-time series, which began in 1975, 23-14-1.
“It was a good win, it’s always nice for the seniors,” said Pentucket coach Steve Hayden. “I feel bad for the Triton kids. Any given day, different things can happen. It a was nice way to end the year.”
The game began inauspiciously for Rothwell, who fumbled away the football on the first play of the game. He made up for it on the next drive, however, breaking a 60-yard run for the first of his three touchdowns.
Pentucket quarterback Ryan Kutcher would push the score to 12-0 with a 3-yard dive into the end zone midway through the second quarter. It was Kutcher’s biggest contribution of the game. He attempted only four passes without a completion and threw one interception that gave the Vikings a glimmer of hope going into halftime.
With 1:26 left in the first half, Triton’s Luke Boyle intercepted Kutcher and returned the ball 76 yards for the touchdown, making the score 12-6. Smelling blood, Triton attempted and almost recovered an onside kick, but it failed and the teams went to the locker room separated by six points.
“We got beat up, but we never gave up, and that’s important going forward,” said Triton head coach Patrick Sheehan. “I thought defensively we played one of our best halves of football all season long. We just stopped doing the things that made us successful in the first place.”
Triton began the second half with the ball, but a false start penalty (one of four against Triton yesterday) forced a punt instead of a chance of fourth-and-short.
Rothwell then took his first carry of the half 40 yards for his second touchdown and what would ultimately prove to be the game-winner.
And while Rothwell was the source of highlight plays during the game (he had rushes of 60, 40, 34, 29 and 19), McGuirk also provided a steady stream of positive yards for the Sachems. McGuirk would score his first two touchdowns of the season in the third quarter, as Pentucket began to pull away from their rivals.
“It’s kind of emotional because it’s the last game, but it’s great to go out with a bang like this,” said McGuirk. “Running with Cody was awesome and the line was great. They picked up all their assignments. It was awesome.”
Despite not forcing a turnover, the Sachem defense held strong in the second half, allowing only one Triton drive to extend beyond four plays. The Vikings’ only second-half score came with just over a minute remaining in the game. Triton quarterback Bradley Whitman (8 for 22, 37 yards) found senior wide receiver Travis Kneeland on a fly pattern to get his offense on the board.
The Vikings rushed Whitman consistently throughout the game. McGuirk, seniors Franco Pizzarella and Michael McCarron and junior Chad Legault all recorded sacks.
Pentucket 41, Triton 12
West Newbury, Mass.
Triton (1-10) 0 6 0 6 — 12
Pentucket (6-5) 6 6 16 13 — 41
PEN — Cody Rothwell, 60 rush (2-point failed), 9:16
PEN — Ryan Kuchar, 3 rush (2-point failed), 6:39
TRI — Luke Boyle, 76 interception return (Kick failed), 1:26
PEN — Rothwell, 40 rush (Rothwell convesion), 8:19
PEN — Rothwell, 19 Rush (Rothwell conversion), 4:27
PEN — Connor McGuirk, 4 rush (kick blocked), 9:49
PEN — McGuirk, 4 rush (Nick Zaia kick), 6:38
TRI — Travis Kneeland, 17 pass from Bradley Whitman (conversion failed), 1:21
Rushing@boxText: — Triton (22-86) – Justin Spillane 5-44, Bradley Whitman 11-22, Luke Boyle 6-20. Pentucket (43-349) Cody Rothwell 17-251, Connor McGuirk 18-76, Chris Croteau 3-18, Ryan Kutcher 2-3, Jeff Porter 1-1, Andrew Noyes 1-4, JC West 1-6
Passing — Triton – Bradley Whitman 8-22-37-1-0. Pentucket -Ryan Kutcher 0-4-0-0-1
Receiving — Triton (8-48) James Woods 1-3, Mark Boyle 1-2, Jack Germinara 3-21, Connor Barry 2-15, Travis Kneeland 1-17. Pentucket (0-0)