Tomahawks end with blowout loss to Astros

Perhaps playing with Pinkerton Academy for a full game is a goal for another day.

The Merrimack football team (3-6) did all it could to hang in there for a half, but in the end, it was the Astros who blew the doors off the Tomahawks, 63-21, in their final game of the 2013 regular season.

“You can only hold a great team at bay for so long,” Merrimack coach Dante Laurendi said. “Obviously, Manny (Lattimore) didn’t play, but they step up, and that’s why they’re the envy of most programs in the state.”

The Astros (7-2), who now look to the first round of the playoffs as the leader in the South conference, were led by TJ Urbanik and his 214 yards on the ground.

Urbanik scored five times on the night, four on runs of more than 40 yards.

Urbanik was especially spectacular in the third quarter, where the Astros needed nine offensive plays for four scores. Urbanik took in three, including a 63-yard sprint on the Astros’ second drive of the half.

He added a 38-yard touchdown reception to close the first half.

Devin Gillis was Merrimack’s highlight of the first half, completing 12 of 22 passes for 191 yards and two touchdown passes. But the Astros stepped up, picked him off twice in the third (three times overall) and held him to three more completions for 6 yards.

And that was that.

“They have the top-to-bottom discipline, desire and execution,” Laurendi said of Pinkerton.

The teams went back and forth in the first quarter as senior Jordan Miranda (10 carries, team-high 53 yards) and Andrew DeGregorio hauled in touchdowns for the Tomahawks. DeGregorio’s 16-yard reception tied the game at 14 before Pinkerton’s Matthew Madden (eight carries, 100 yards; left the game with an injury) put the Astros back up by a score.

Sophomore tight end Ian Roberts (8 receptions, 95 yards) tied the game again when he hauled in Gillis’ final touchdown pass of the season from 10 yards out.

Then came Urbanik, this time on a 38-yard TD reception from Jack Hanaway. The pass, Hanaway’s only completion and one of two attempts, caught the Tomahawks sleeping with 28 seconds left in the half.

Merrimack finishes third in the conference after playing through a winless season in Division II last season.

“I’m just proud of how our guys competed,” Laurendi said. “You know, no matter what the score was, they continued to compete.

“I thought our seniors really stepped up in difficult situations to really lead this team and hopefully set a great example for the future.”