EASTON – Justin Pacchioli threw for one touchdown and ran for a two-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to lead the Red Rovers come back win over Whitehall 13-10 at Cottingham Stadium Saturday night.
After a tough loss two days ago to Phillipsburg NJ on Thanksgiving Day, Easton Area (12-2) bounced backed to win back-to-back District 11 4A titles and earn a shot next week at the defending state champs LaSalle College High School.
Pacchioli talked about winning another title, “It’s an amazing feeling. Especially coming out as a senior winning your last one at Cottingham and showing the younger guys what it is all about and it feels good and it erases the Phillipsburg lost.”
The Red Rovers drove 54 yards on seven plays to take an early lead in the second quarter. Pacchioli threw a perfect pass to Jonathan Bisci for a seven-yard touchdown. Bisci caught the ball in the back of the end zone and managed to get one foot in for an amazing catch. The kick failed and the Red Rovers led 6-0.
The Zephyrs answered their scoring drive with one of their own. Josh Cirocco’s 32-yard field goal with 5:19 remaining in the first half cut the Red Rovers lead in half 6-3.
The Red Rovers were on the move again late in the third quarter. The Zephyrs defense came up with a big sack and two plays later Michael Williams intercepted the pass and took it deep inside Red Rover territory.
With 50 seconds left in the third quarter, Eric Fiore plowed his way in for the three-yard touchdown run. The Zephyrs led 10-6.
Early in the fourth quarter, Whitehall Quarterback Chris Polony injured his leg keeping him out of the rest of the game. Nicholas Shafnisky came into the game.
The biggest momentum change in the game happened next. Shafnisky avoided the sack and found Tyler Artim who broke free for the 41-yard completion. He was off to the races, but Pacchioli trailed behind him and caught up to him. He ripped the football out and Ian Hayden fell on it to give Easton the ball with 10:17 remaining in the game. The Red Rovers took over on their 26.
Pacchioli talked about the turnover, “We got that huge turnover at the end and we kinda said this is it and if we were going to go we have to go now. We put are heads together and drove right down the field and scored.”
Pacchioli converted big third downs and a fourth down play during the drive and had big runs. The Red Rovers drove 74 yards on 12-plays as Pacchioli called his own play and went straight up the middle for the two-yard score. The Red Rovers comeback put them up 13-10 with 4:24 left in the game.
Quarterback Justin Pacchioli talked about the game winning drive, “It was a drive we put together and we were talking about it the whole second half. All it was going to take is one drive and drive us down the field and win the football game for us.”
Pacchioli finished the game passing for 82 yards and he rushed for 83 yards.
The Zephyrs offense wasn’t in sync after that. They had bad snap after bad snap that hurt them late in the game. Their last two drives ended with a punt and they turned it over on downs.
The Red Rovers defense held Chris Polony to 33 yards passing and Eric Fiore to 56-yard rushing and one score. They out rushed Whitehall 207 to 68 yards.
David Caldwell Jr. talked about Easton’s defense, “Our defense carried us in the game today. We played good all season and we don’t get down on each other. We come together when we need to.”