On the heels of a historic season, the Johnston Football League began its 2011 season on Sunday at West Elmwood. The Pee Wee Panthers were upset 12-0 by the Intruders.
The game was a battle of the defenses. Johnston kicked off and got an early stop thanks to good defensive play by David Pingitore, Jonathan Souza, Nathan Mendoza and Nic Comella as well as the rest of the Panther defense.
West Elmwood was also strong, though, stopping Johnston on its possessions. Thanks to a couple of nice runs and a completed pass, the Intruders jumped on top 6-0 and held that lead into halftime.
The Panthers started with the ball in the second half but could not escape the problems that has plagued them earlier. The teams traded empty possessions in the third quarter and again it was the defenses dominating. Justin Powell, Ray Iannuccillo, Lucas Correia and Andrew Florio stepped up for Johnston, and it looked as though the game would be won in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers had their chance late in the quarter when the offense started to click thanks to nice blocking by Joey Patterson, Florio, Iannuccillo and Pingitore and an impressive pass from quarterback Tom Comella to Ryan Benum for a 25- yard gain. The momentum began to shift as the time dwindled in the fourth, but the Panthers were unable to capitalize and the drive fizzled. The Intruders scored another touchdown on a broken play at the end of the game, sealing the 12-0 win.
"The boys gave 100 percent today and that's all you can ask,” said coach David Pingitore.
Coach Paul Conte added, "We put this all in perspective and will only mourn a loss for one day as we will only celebrate a win for the same. We have some work ahead of us and that is what we will do. The team and the coaches will work harder and I am sure we can succeed."