WOONSOCKET – Lights on. Lights out!
Playing under portable illumination for only the second time ever at Barry Field, Woonsocket High treated its faithful fans to a convincing 34-14 rout of Central in a Division II quarterfinal contest on Friday night.
The Villa Novans got their typical effort out of the defense, which allowed Woonsocket prime field position all night. The offense did its part too, taking a 27-0 lead before the Knights were able to prevent the shutout with two scores in the final quarter.
“That Central team is a very good football team,” said WHS coach Carnell Henderson. “They have a lot of team speed and our defense did an unbelievable job once again. Offensively, we were able to hit early on some things that we saw. We had a great game from Orlan Thomas and Jalen Evans early, until he got banged up a little bit. Our offensive line played extremely well and we were able to control the clock a little bit and keep them off the football field. As explosive as they were, that was the goal.”
Evans and Thomas combined for 235 yards of offense for the Villa Novans, who finished with 244 on the ground and 69 more via the air. Playing just the first two quarters, the sophomore Evans hustled for 91 yards and a score. Thomas, a senior, also found the end zone and burned the turf for 144 yards with all but 10 of those yards coming in the second half.
But one of the keys to the Villa Novans advancing to the semifinals on Nov. 30 where they’ll take on Chariho - a 15-6 winner over Mount Hope in its quarterfinal matchup last night - was their ability to contain the Knights’ speedy running back Mike Washington. Even though the all-state track runner was able to crack the 100- yard mark (20 carries, 112 yards), he was limited to just 34 in the first three quarters.
“That’s their cornerstone of their offense,” Henderson said. “When you can stabilize a great back like him, it kind of puts them going to Plan B. They kind of did the same thing to us and kind of double-teamed (wide receiver Jessie) Charette. We had to go to Plan B and Plan B was to run the football. We did a great job of running the football.”
Except for a one-yard keeper from Kevin Reyes for the final points in the fourth quarter, all the rest of the Villa Novans’ touchdowns came on long plays.
With just over two minutes left in the first quarter, Evans gave Woonsocket a 7-0 lead with a 35-yard run. After forcing Central to go three and out, the Villa Novans got the ball just past midfield off a 25-yard punt. Evans did all the work during a quick, three-play drive that included a brilliant TD run where he was able to avoid numerous Knight players running right through the gut of their defense.
Woonsocket would score one last time before halftime. With 46.1 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Reyes (6-10-0, 69 yards) tossed a perfect spiral to Charette near the right sideline for a 27-yard touchdown. Again, the Novans capitalized on great field position where they needed just six plays from the Knights’ 43 before finding the end zone.
Thomas went to work in the second half, returning the opening kickoff for 25 yards. He then took care of three of the Villa Novans’ four plays, his last being a 39-yard TD run to give his teammates a 20-0 advantage with still 9:41 left in the third quarter.
The final long score for Woonsocket occurred at the end of the quarter with senior Edwin Jones capping off a five-play 63-yard drive with a 35-yard run.
Woonsocket, which finished 6-1 and in second place in Div. II-B behind unbeaten Tolman, will now prepare for its annual Thanksgiving Day showdown with Cumberland on Nov. 25. A few days later, the Villa Novans will travel to Chariho for its semifinal contest. The Chargers earned the league title in Div. II-A at 5-2, the same record as Central and Johnston.
“They finished number one in that division for a reason,” Henderson said. “Plus we have to make a long bus ride down there in two weeks. We have to get our minds ready and great ready for the second half. Before that, we have to play a tough Cumberland team. There’s a lot of football left to be played. We just have to get back into the office as a coaching staff and get ready for these next couple of games.”
Central 0 0 0 14 - 14
Woonsocket 7 7 13 7 - 34
W – Jalen Evans 35 run (John Poirer kick)
W – Kevin Reyes 37 pass to Jesse Charette (Poirer kick)
W – Orlan Thomas 39 run (Poirer kick failed)
W – Edwin Jones 35 run (Poirer kick)
C – Anthony Hem 1 run (run failed)
C – Hem 35 pass to Jose Ortiz (Hem pass to Jon Acevedo)
W – Reyes 1 run (Poirer kick)
First downs 3 2
Rushes-yards 37-244 25-127
Passing 6-10-0 3-13-1
Sacks-loss 1-8 0-0
Net passing 69 79
Punts-average 1-30 3-26
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 4-20 6-40
RUSHING – W: Jalen Evans 12-91, Kevin Reyes 7-9, Orlan Thomas 17-144, Edwin Jones 1-0. C: Mike Washington 20-112, Jon Vinas 1-7, Cosmo Johnson 1-9, Randy Figueroa 1-2, Anthony Hem 2-(-3).
PASSING – W: Kevin Reyes 6-10-0 69. C: Anthony Hem 3-13-1 79.
RECEIVING – W: Jessie Charette 2-41, Orlan Thomas 1-4, Geovanni Heredia 2-9, Jason Garfield-DeMontigny 1-15. C: Mike Washington 1-7, Jose Ortiz 2-72, Edward Pupoh 1-1.