The Pilgrim football team picked up a 32-14 Beacon Bowl win over rival Toll Gate on Thanksgiving last week. The Pats also grabbed the 3-2 series lead and have won three straight meetings between the …
The Pilgrim football team picked up a 32-14 Beacon Bowl win over rival Toll Gate on Thanksgiving last week. The Pats also grabbed the 3-2 series lead and have won three straight meetings between the two.
The Pats were led by senior running back Matt Santos, who picked up three touchdowns on the day.
“This was huge. We were tied 2-2, so for the 2019 seniors, this was dedicated to them. It felt great, I played my heart out on offense and defense so it was great to get a win. I was ready to go,” said Santos.
Santos would give Pilgrim a quick 6-0 lead in the first quarter, but Toll Gate would get a touchdown from quarterback Jay Vann to make it 6-6 early in the second quarter. Santos would add one more score just before the halftime break to make it 12-6.
Andrew Vicino had a big third quarter for Pilgrim, hauling in an interception and then scoring a touchdown on offense on the ensuing Pilgrim drive, extending the lead to 19-6. Santos would rush for his third touchdown of the day early in the fourth to make it 25-6 and put the game out of reach for Toll Gate.
Vann connected with Jonathan Almeida with 4:06 remaining, then Pilgrim quarterback Chace Roberts tossed a touchdown to Cole Bigelli to wrap things up.
Pilgrim head coach Blake Simpson was thrilled to bring the Beacon Bowl trophy home and appreciated Johnston, who returned the trophy after winning it last Thanksgiving.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to take home a trophy on Thanksgiving against our city rival. I want to thank (Coach) Joe Acciardo and the Johnston team for returning it back and allowing us to play for the trophy this year even though they weren’t a part of it,” said Simpson, who was also impressed with Santos all year. “Matt has been a workhorse for us all season long. We really didn’t know what we were going to do at running back, we tried a few people back there, but Matt is just a hard runner, hard worker, and when you need just a couple of yards to get the first down, we know we can rely on him to get that.”
Pilgrim junior lineman Isaac Iannone was named MVP along with Santos, and was excited to get one last chance to win with the senior leaders.
“It means a lot, it means a lot to get this win with these seniors, they’re a special group. The connection is good and to see them go is sad, but to get to play with them one last time was great,” said Iannone.
Iannone was also relieved to avoid national headlines after the team was victim to a Johnston trick play that went viral last year.
“We didn’t want to end up on ESPN again,” Iannone joked. “We just wanted to do what we had to in order to win and that’s what we did.”
Pilgrim will be graduating a small senior class but is slated to return 20 juniors next fall. Simpson is hoping that the returning bunch will be ready to hit the ground running come 2023.
“Four of these seniors were here in 2019 when we won the championship which makes it hard because none of (the returning players) have experienced that,” said Simpson. “The 20 juniors we have are hungry to experience that and win a championship.”
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