READING – There might be better players in Massachusetts than Bishop Feehan’s Nick Yanchuk but Shamrocks coach Brian Pinabell sure is glad that he gets to go into battle with him.
After shredding Peabody for 315 yards and four touchdowns last week, it seemingly couldn’t get better for Yanchuk. But that proved to be just a warm-up for Friday night as the senior carried 39 times for 362 yards and six touchdowns to lead the Shamrocks to a 48-6 win over previously unbeaten Reading.
The No. 14 seed advances to next week’s Division 2 semifinal against No. 2 King Philip, a 17-13 winner over Marshfield, with a trip to Gillette Stadium up for grabs.
“If Matt is not one of the best players in the state, I don’t know who is,” Pinabell said. “I would take that guy with me anywhere, any time.”
Yanchuk’s backfield mate, Dante Bruschi, also had a standout game for the second week in a row as he rushed for 100 yards and the game’s highlight touchdown that saw him shake off six tacklers, four of them coming inside the five yard line. He also led a defense, coordinated by his father Tedy, that turned in five sacks and never let Reading quarterback James Murphy get into a rhythm.
“All the credit goes to Tedy and the coaches. They came up with a fantastic game plan for the kids to execute,” Pinabell said. “To hold one of the best offenses in the state to six points is amazing.”
Reading got the ball to start the game and marched inside the Shamrocks (5-3) 30-yard line on four completions from Murphy. But the Feehan defense stiffened to force a turnover on downs to give its offense a chance to set the tone for the rainy night.
Yanchuk toted the rock seven times for 50 yards as part of a nine play march that covered 73 yards in a little over five minutes. His 24-yard sweep capped the drive to give the Shamrocks a 7-0 lead.
A short Reading punt to begin the second quarter gave Feehan the ball near midfield. From there, Yanchuk and his massive offensive line went right to work. Six straight runs covered the 53 yards in a little under four minutes with a 24 yard sweep left, capping the drive for a 13-0 lead.
The teams traded punts until late in the half when Feehan got the ball at its 44 with 2:14 left. It didn’t take long for the Shamrocks to convert as Yanchuk completed a 159-yard first half with a 46 yard dash to make it 20-0 at the break.
Even better for the Shamrocks was they got the ball and a chance to double up at the start of the second half. It took just three plays and 90 seconds for just that to happen as Yanchuk bolted 69 yards to make it 27-0.
A three and out was not what Reading needed to begin the second half as the tiring Rockets defense had to come right back on the field. Feehan took full advantage as Yanchuk’s fifth score of the game capped a 77 yard drive to make it 34-0 with still 4:12 left in the third.
Reading finally got on the board on the next drive as Murphy scored on a 16-yard scramble but Bruschi answered with his 70-yard run on the next series before Yanchuk capped the scoring and his night to remember with a 15-yard TD in the fourth.
“Our defense was able to get stops and we scored off of them,” Yanchuk said. “Everyone knows that’s what we want to do and it’s how we play.”