Turnovers doom North Smithfield in loss to Hope
PROVIDENCE â North Smithfieldâs resurgent football program took a step backwards on Saturday afternoon, turning the ball over five times during an 18-10 loss to Hope High.
View more articles in:
âExtremely frustrating,â Northmen coach Wes Pennington said when asked to describe what he had just seen. âWe fought hard but you canât win football games turning the ball over like that.â
Fresh off a season-opening 55-26 romp over Burrillville, the Northmen entered their Division IV opener seeking to maintain the momentum built by the 2010 squad that qualified for the playoffs with a 6-2 league record.
Hope also made the playoffs last year and returned âa real good group of seniors,â according to coach Michael Gibbons. Those seniors played a key role in Saturdayâs outcome.
North Smithfieldâs biggest turnover came early in the fourth quarter, right after Hope had taken a 12-7 lead. The Northmen hit on a 23-yard pass from Dan Jordan to tight end Peter Keenan, putting the ball near midfield. Halfback Paris Correia then ran for 21 yards. An encroachment penalty on Hope put the ball at the Blue Waveâs own 28-yard line. Momentum had clearly swung in Northâs direction.
On first-and-five, Jordan dropped back from center and tried to flip a screen pass to Correia in the right flat. Correia, however, was a yard behind his QB and the ensuing missed connection on the short pass became a live ball. Hopeâs Johnson Weah, arguably the best player on the field, beat Correia to the football, picked it up and ran 59 yards, all the way down to the 13-yard line. Halfback Delonce Wright needed just two carries to push across the gameâs decisive score.
North Smithfield responded with an efficient drive culminated by Jacob Walkowâs 36-yard field goal with 3:38 left in the game, cutting the deficit to a doable 18-10.
The Northmen then rose up on defense to force a punt.
This is where Weah, a senior, hurt the visitors again, sending his boot 46 yards down the field to Northâs six-yard line. Jordan and Correia and company never had a chance as the Blue Wave defenders swarmed through the line of scrimmage for two sacks in the final minute of the game.
North Smithfield began the game gaining 14 yards on its first two carries. Correia got six and then Jordan scrambled for eight yards after missing an intended handoff to Mancini in the backfield.
On first down from Northâs own 39, Jordan and Mancini proceeded to botch another handoff, putting the ball on the ground. Hopeâs Corey Brinkman recovered at the 37 and the Blue Wave covered the remaining distance in six plays with Wright scoring from 25 yards out for a 6-0 lead.
North turned the ball over on downs on its next possession. It fumbled the ball away at midfield with 45 seconds left in the first quarter. Jordan was intercepted midway through the second quarter, then saw his desperation pass at the end of the half just elude the outstretched hands of Keenan at the end zone flag for what might have been a stunning last-second touchdown.
It was that kind day for the Northmen.
âWe can run that screen pass 50 times in practice and get it right every time,â Pennington said. âMaybe today was just one of those days. The kids get a little tired and the timing for a handoff or a pass is thrown off. One of our fumbles today was the quarterbackâs fault. Another was the fullbackâs fault. We have to do a better job than we did today. Thatâs the bottom line.â
Northâs lone touchdown drive came early in the third quarter. Correia, who rushed 18 times for 171 yards, began the possession by sweeping right end and cutting back across the field for a 33-yard gain. Four plays later, the hard-running junior raced 20 yards into the end zone to tie the game at 6-6. Walkowâs extra point gave North its only lead of the day.
Hope went back ahead 12-7 on a 52-yard scoring drive early in the fourth quarter. A 27-yard run by Richard Collins got the ball to the 25 and teammate Delonce Wright covered the rest on the next play.
North Smithfield will visit Smithfield this coming Friday night. Smithfield dropped a 29-0 decision to Central Falls in its league opener this past Friday evening.