READING – Baden Pinson caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Mancini Jackson with 20.6 seconds left in the game as the Reading Blue Devils rallied for a 20-17 victory over Madeira, Friday night, in a thrilling CHL game at Reading.
The play capped an 80-yard drive as Jackson, a 15-year-old sophomore, kept the drive alive with a 30-yard run on 4th and 11 from the Reading 30 with under two minutes left. Jackson, who had been completing less than 40% of his passes, hit a pair of key completions in the drive and used his legs to thwart a strong Madeira pass rush.
The victory kept the Blue Devils atop the CHL at 2-0, 5-0 overall, in their attempt to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Madeira is 3-2, 1-1.
The Mustangs had taken a 17-13 lead with 9:51 left in the fourth quarter on a 6-yard TD run by quarterback Kyle Johnson and the PAT from Christopher Landgrebe. While Johnson capped the 65-yard drive with the run, it was Greg Corn who did the bulk of the offensive load in the drive for the Mustangs, gaining 48 of his game-high 112 yards on that drive with runs straight up the middle.
Related: Reading schedule, stats
After a stalled Reading drive, Madeira got the ball back with 6 ½ minutes to go and a chance to ice it. Though Madeira did move to midfield, the Blue Devil defense stiffened and the Jackson-led offense trotted onto the field with 80 yards in front of them and one time out. After an incompletion and two runs combined to lose a yard, Jackson was faced with the biggest play of his game.
After evading Madeira’s strong pass rush up the middle, Jackson got outside the pocket to his left, juked a defender, broke one tackle and gained 30 yards to put the ball near midfield and brought an anxious home crowd alive. After that run, the Reading students poured out from the stands onto the North End Zone sensing a rush of the field may actually be in order. But the Blue Devils still need half a field to gain.
Pinson’s 11 yard run and a Madeira offside penalty were the key plays the preceded Jackson’s swing pass to Pinson, who evaded tacklers on his way into the end zone for the game-winner.
Related: Madeira schedule, stats
Reading, which has struggled in recent years to field a consistent winner, seems to have the formula under second-year-coach Pat McLaughlin. The 1996 Moeller High School grad, has helped instill confidence and a strong work ethic in the Blue Devils. It also has helped to have higher numbers of good athletes. This year, only four Blue Devils play both ways. One of those two-way players is Pinson, a junior running back and defensive back/linebacker. It was Pinson’s block of a Landgrebe punt deep in Madeira territory in the first quarter that set up the game’s first score to put Reading up by seven. Johnson’s 8 yard TD run and Landgrebe’s PAT tied the game at 7-7 at the half.
Mancini’s 1-yard run capped a 53-yard drive in the third quarter put Reading up 13-7. Landgrebe’s 29 yard field goal with 79 seconds left in the third quarter cut the Reading lead to 13-10.
Madeira 0 7 3 7 – 17
Reading 7 0 6 7 – 20
R-Brooks 11 run (Sophia kick)
M-Johnson 8 run (Landgrebe kick)
R-Mancini 1 run (kick failed)
M-Landgrebe 29 FG
M-Johnson 6 run (Landgrebe kick)
R-Pinson 18 pass from Mancini (Sophia kick)
Records: Reading 5-0 (2-0 CHL), Madeira 3-2 (1-1 CHL).