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Spellman 31, Shawsheen 7

Spellman wins at a cost

Cardinal Spellman’s Scott O’Brien, who rushed for a score and picked off two Shawsheen passes, finds daylight on this run. Cardinal Spellman’s Scott O’Brien, who rushed for a score and picked off two Shawsheen passes, finds daylight on this run. (Winslow Townson/For The Boston Globe)
By Nick French
Globe Correspondent / November 30, 2011
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ANDOVER - Cardinal Spellman had a Pyrrhic victory last night in its 31-7 win over Shawsheen in the Division 4 playoffs at Andover.

The win earned the Cardinals a second straight Super Bowl berth, but it came at the cost of star senior running back Pat Hinkley, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury that left the entire team devastated after the game.

“When you have a nice victory like this and one of your brothers goes down, there is concern,’’ said Spellman coach Ron St. George. “I feel terrible about it, I feel bad for the team and mostly for Pat.’’

It was Hinkley’s heroics before suffering the injury while being tangled up on defense that boosted Spellman (12-0) to Saturday’s Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium against Mashpee.

He opened the scoring with a 1-yard run after Shawsheen fumbled a snap deep in its territory on a punt attempt for an early 7-0 lead.

Shawsheen (6-5) cost itself again, turning the ball over when Dan Kustka intercepted a pass at the Rams 15-yard line, which led to a Ben Cowan field goal and a 10-0 lead.

“When you play a great football team you almost have to play mistake free,’’ said Shawsheen coach Al Costabile. “We made a few early and they capitalized and were able to play their type of game.’’

On Spellman’s next drive, Hinkley followed up Scott O’Brien’s 49-yard run with a 14-yard rush through a host of defenders to give Spellman a 17-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

“He does a great job running the ball, and doesn’t go down easy,’’ said St. George.

O’Brien scored from 30 yards out on a reverse to give Spellman a commanding 24-0 halftime lead, and Hinkley would close his team’s scoring in the third with a 15-yard, over-the-shoulder catch-and-run on a toss from quarterback Tim Burke.

Shawsheen put some pressure on to open the second half, recovering an onside kick, but the Spellman defense, which forced six turnovers, continued to stand firm. A late 53-yard touchdown run from Brian Ward was the only blemish on an otherwise clean sheet.

“We’ve been very good defensively all year but I thought we did a great job in coverage tonight,’’ said St. George.

St. George is hopeful his star can bounce back for the Super Bowl, a title that eluded the Cardinals a year ago.

“Obviously there is a lot of concern because one of our best players’ status for the game is in question,’’ he said. “But if there is any way a kid can come back, Pat Hinkley will do it.’’

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