ATTLEBORO — The Bishop Feehan High football team can stake claim to shutting out arguably the best team in the Catholic Central League, Bishop Fenwick High, over the second half of play Thursday at McGrath Stadium.
The Shamrocks also stopped the Crusaders on four second-half drives, three of which reached Bishop Feehan territory, including their second series to the 9-yard line.
But for all of the effort and determination they showed over the final 24 minutes of play, the Shamrocks were unable to overcome allowing Bishop Fenwick touchdowns on its first three series of the game in falling 21-7.
The Crusaders took full advantage of prime field position to score on drives of 34, 40 and four yards, owning a 21-0 lead a minute into the second quarter.
“We made a lot of young mistakes early,” Bishop Feehan coach Bryan Pinabell. “We’re learning on the fly.”
Shamrocks’ sophomore running back Nick Yanchuk fired away for 51 rushing yards, having eight carries greater than three yards. Shamrocks’ junior QB Aidan Crump completed nine passes for 134 yards. The Shamrocks’ junior tight end Rob Pombriant snared three passes for 40 yards, including a 28-yard scoring strike in the third quarter.
“We shut them out in the second half, that’s a good football team,” Pinabell said. “Seeing our kids in the huddle after the game, they realized that they can play with anybody.”
However, a pair of first half interceptions, a second half fumble and an offense which snapped off just 14 plays from the line of scrimmage in the second half resulted in the Shamrocks suffering their second setback of the season.
Tucker Destino, the Crusaders’ bowling ball (5-9, 190) of a senior tailback, amassed 112 yards rushing, 61 during the second half as Bishop Fenwick played ball possession with 30 offensive plays. Destino carried the ball 20 times, 11 being for gains of four yards or more.
Bishop Feehan was unable to extricate itself from its own end of the field on offense on its first three offensive sets, resulting in the Crusaders being afforded a favorable short field.
“We’re not that far off, we knew that we’d have some growing pains,” Pinabell said.
Bishop Feehan was forced to punt on its first series into the wind, giving the Crusaders possession of the ball at the Shamrock 34-yard line. Five plays later, Destino scored from three yards out.
The Shamrocks suffered on their second set as a bad snap from center resulted in a 17-yard loss on a second down play, Bishop Feehan having to punt again against the wind. Even with a holding penalty assessed, the Crusaders needed just three plays for quarterback Chrys Wilson to find the end zone on a TD pass.
More misfortune befell Bishop Feehan when the Shamrocks had a pass picked off two plays into their ensuing series, Steve Bua clutching the ball in at the Shamrock 25-yard line to set up a third Crusader TD.
“We asked our kids all week long to compete, in the second half we competed as hard as possible,” Pinabell said. “That’s a good takeaway from this.”
The Shamrocks had three big second half plays. Bill Roche returned a Crusader punt 27-yards to the Bishop Fenwick 40-yard line, but three plays later, Bishop Feehan lost possession on a fumble.
Crump combined with senior Billy Oram on a 51-yard gain down the left side to the Fenwick 30-yard line. Four plays later, Pombriant out-muscled a pair of Crusader defenders for possession of the ball and six points on a fourth-down pass.
The Shamrocks began first half series at their 17, 27, 20, 35 and Bishop Fenwick 27-yard lines in the first half, but were unable to sustain a drive. Crump completed a 17 and 9 yards passes to Oram on the Shamrocks’ fourth series, advancing the ball to the Crusaders’ 15-yard line, but a potential field goal chance by Craig Scharland went astray on a bad snap.
The Shamrocks denied the Crusaders on a fourth down fake punt situation. But, from the Fenwick 27-yard line with 1:51 left until intermission, the Shamrocks ventured inside the 10-yard line, but a holding penalty and three incomplete passes, including an interception in the end zone that ended the threat.
The Shamrocks go on the road for a third time this season April 9 at St. Mary’s of Lynn.