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Novans run away from Titans, 34-0

October 20, 2012

Woonsocket’s Will Andino, pictured here carrying the ball against St. Raphael Academy last season, rushed for two scores Saturday in his team’s 34-0 triumph against Toll Gate. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN.

WARWICK — There was plenty of talent standing on Woonsocket High’s sideline Saturday afternoon. The problem was that not everyone was sporting shoulder pads and helmets.
With regular contributors Jalen Evans, Ryan Lagasse and John Poirier out and D’Andre Thomas leaving the game early in the first quarter, the Villa Novans were forced to call upon several unheralded types, asking them to save the day against Toll Gate High. Those who found themselves thrust into the spotlight acquitted themselves just fine as Woonsocket rolled to a 34-0 whitewashing against the winless Titans.
Jaston Robinson more than made up for the absence of Evans and Thomas, the speedy sophomore sliding and shifting his way to two rushing touchdowns that covered 54 and 12 yards of real estate. Will Andino saw his number called more frequently and the junior did not disappoint, rushing for two first-quarter scores to propel the Villa Novans to a 14-0 advantage.
“Jaston is used to playing one way and only plays in the backfield sparingly,” noted Henderson after Woonsocket upped its Division II-A mark to 3-2. “Will plays all over for us, but when D’Andre went down early, we had to use him and Jaston.
“They definitely have an idea what they’re doing,” Henderson continued. “Our execution wasn’t the best, but again, those guys are playing out of position and have received limited reps at those positions during the season. But they’re (meaning Robinson and Andino) are just such skilled athletes.”
A senior captain, Lagasse bruised his shoulder during practice last week. His absence opened the door for sophomore Nick Fernandes to man the guard spot on offensive line. Not having Poirier to handle the kicking duties proved not to be a major hurdle as Miguel Raymond was 4-of-5 on extra-point tries.
Henderson didn’t think the player losses would affect one side of the ball more than the other, though the mentor did express some concern that the absences could be felt in other areas.
“Not having those guys, they’re seniors and that leadership is something you need after coming off a loss {The Novans fell to Mount Hope at home on Oct. 6},” said Henderson. “It wasn’t so much worrying about what we would do offensively or defensively, but rather our mentality.”
Evans and Lagasse made it a point to offer words of encouragement or point out what they saw to their cohorts.
“In order for us to win, it means that all 49 players have to be involved. It’s just not about the 11 that’s out there; those guys on the sidelines are important because you never know when you’re number is going to be called, so you have to be in the game mentally,” Henderson stressed. “When there are guys filling in for you, you have help them out and guide them along and (Evans and Lagasse) did a great job with that.”
If there was ever a week to put Woonsocket’s depth to the test, this was it. Toll Gate entered Saturday having scored just 24 points in four league games while surrendering a division-worst 137 points. Titans quarterback Dave Babcock was intercepted twice while the home team ran just three plays from inside the red zone.
The game’s complexion changed dramatically during the final 5:32 of the opening quarter. After coming up with a stop on fourth-and-2 at its own 37-yard line, Woonsocket fashioned a seven-play drive that was capped when Andino cut to the left side for a four-yard score. Toll Gate’s ensuing drive only lasted three plays with Zach Mitchell coming away with the interception for the Novans.
With 6.2 seconds left in the quarter, Andino galloped 30 yards to make it a two-touchdown game. By the time the second quarter got underway, the Titans (0-5, Division II-A) found themselves in a painfully familiar position – that of playing from behind. The deficit swelled to 21-0 at halftime and with the score staying the same heading into the final quarter.
For good measure, burly sophomore Shawn Ingram barreled his way into the end zone from four yards out in fourth quarter, closing out the scoring for Woonsocket.
Thomas departed the game with what Henderon deemed, “a high (left) ankle sprain.” The junior, who missed substantial time last season, left the grounds at halftime to get the injury checked out.
“We’re hoping to get D’Andre back, but that type of injury is hard to overcome,” sighed Henderson.
As for Evans, the speedy senior has been slowed by a knee injury, though Henderson is optimistic that the tailback will be back for this Saturday’s game at Barry Field against defending Division II champion Chariho.

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