Football: Concord struggles to sustain offense, make plays on defense in 34-7 loss to Pinkerton

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 10-01-2023 12:55 AM

CONCORD – For the shorthanded Concord High football team to take down undefeated Pinkerton on Saturday, it was going to take perfect execution and some luck. For a brief moment, it looked like there was a chance.

On the opening kickoff, kicker Colby Nyhan executed a perfect onside kick that the Crimson Tide recovered, stealing an extra possession for the offense. But three plays later, the Tide fumbled the football, Pinkerton recovered and it all went south from there.

The Astros put together a 17-play, 84-yard drive that ate up 8:14 of game clock and culminated with a 6-yard touchdown from Caden Michaud, the first of three trips to the end zone for the senior running back, who had 111 rushing yards on 18 carries on Saturday. Pinkerton never looked back, opening a 14-0 halftime lead into a 28-0 advantage at the end of the third quarter, and ultimately, a 34-7 win.

The back-breaker came in the third quarter when, with just over six minutes remaining, Pinkerton’s Jamison Isaac returned a Nyhan punt 82 yards for a touchdown.

Concord’s lone score came courtesy of a 5-yard touchdown run from Jackson Borkush with 2:43 left in the game. Borkush finished the day with eight rushes for 61 yards.

At quarterback, Nyhan flashed some bright spots but couldn’t find consistency with his receivers, finishing the game 7-for-18 for 88 yards and an interception.

“We just couldn’t sustain in the second half,” Concord head coach Jim Corkum said. “That was a big message at halftime, that we gotta keep this going, we gotta sustain – they’re not going to be getting tired, they’re going to come out and continue to keep pounding. We need to be ready for that. They just wore us down.”

A coach will never blame a tough schedule for a poor start, but it’s hard to ignore that the Tide’s 1-3 start to the season has come with losses against the Astros (5-0), Londonderry (4-1) and Salem (5-0). That’s not to say Concord’s played spectacularly – the team clearly still has lots of areas to grow – but the difference in talent and depth has become a tough hurdle for Concord to overcome in the first half of the 2023 season.

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“You’ve got teams that are able to play guys just one way,” Corkum said of how some opponents don’t have to use as many players both on offense and defense. “We have a majority of our guys playing two ways, a lot of our guys having to play on special teams, too. Never really get a chance to come off the field, and we just seem to be bitten by the injury bug this year. Lot of things that we have to try to overcome.”

Learning those lessons of overcoming adversity becomes harder and harder the longer poor play continues. As Corkum noted, it can grow frustrating for players when they invest so much time, energy and effort into the program and don’t see any reward for it on game day.

“When things are up against you, you still have to stay together as a team; you have to have each other’s back when there’s not a lot of things to be really positive about,” Corkum said. “There were some positives out of today, but bottom line is we want to win; kids want to win. When we don’t, that’s tough.”

The mental hurdles to stay motivated and stay confident are one thing; making the on-field adjustments necessary to win games are another, and Corkum saw several components for his group to focus on moving forward.

“We have to sustain some drives. We have to get stops in key moments. We gotta get off the field on fourth down,” he said. “When we put a team in fourth down, we cannot continue to let them convert and let them extend drives. … When they make mistakes, which rarely happen, you have to be able to capitalize, and we didn’t do that today.”

The Astros converted on three out of five fourth-down opportunities.

Concord’s journey ahead continues to be complicated by the fact that the Crimson Tide are still without their top player, running back Eli Bahuma, who was once again on the sidelines with crutches on Saturday. Corkum said he doesn’t anticipate the senior returning again this season.

And while it might be hard to continually remind his group that it controls how it approaches the rest of the season even though things haven’t broken its way, Corkum and the Tide don’t really have any other choice.

“To continue to say you’re facing adversity, if you just trust the process and continue showing up and being a good teammate and being a good person, it will pay off. It’s easy to say, but that gets hard as you’re not seeing a lot of rewards from all the work you’re putting in,” Corkum added. “We gotta try to make sure we’re continuing to just trust the process.”

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