CENTRAL FALLS – There was no slippage or signs of letup. For playoff-bound Central Falls, it was simply full speed ahead.
Thursday’s 34-0 holiday win against Lincoln High was just what C.F. head coach Mo Jackson was looking for. His Warriors raced to a commanding 27-0 halftime lead behind three touchdown passes from quarterback Brandon Canuto, who completed 9-of-11 passes for 247 yards.
The hefty advantage paved the way for Jackson and his assistants to trot out the reserves for the second half. As for the present, Central Falls (7-4) will take Friday off before returning to work on Saturday in preparation for next Tuesday’s Division IV quarterfinal-round matchup at North Smithfield.
“We just didn’t want to see anyone get hurt,” cited Jackson, echoing a sentiment shared by coaches around the state whose clubs will be participating in ‘Tuesday Night Lights.’
After the game the two sides gathered at midfield for a short presentation. Each head coach said a few words before handing out a trophy denoting sportsmanship to a member of the opposing team. Jackson selected Lincoln quarterback Kyle Jackson while Central Falls tight end Joel Peralta was the choice of Lincoln head coach Dave Waycott.
Peralta was Canuto’s go-to receiver on Thursday, the senior hauling in four balls for 90 yards and two touchdowns. Peralta’s first score came immediately after Central Falls stuffed Lincoln on fourth-and-short. Getting behind the Lion secondary, Peralta waltzed into the end zone for a 44-yard score that proved to be all the points the Warriors would need on this day.
Canuto delivered on the point-after try to put the Warriors up 7-0 at the 3:14 mark of the first quarter. After C.F. forced Lincoln into a quick three-and-out, the Warriors marched 51 yards en route to their second score. Blanketed by two Lincoln defenders, Peralta hauled in a 17-yard pass to make it 13-0 just as time expired in the first quarter.
Larry Cruz was the story in the second quarter for the Warriors. The senior intercepted a Jackson pass at midfield, which helped set up a one-yard plunge by Kenuel Lopez to make the score 21-0. Later, Cruz was on the receiving end of a 46-yard scoring bomb by Canuto in which the Central Falls signal caller handed the ball off before getting it immediately back.
For Lincoln, Thursday represented a golden opportunity to garner some sort of positive momentum heading into the offseason. Instead the Lions were whistled for three encroachment penalties on defense, all coming in the first half. Lincoln finishes the season with one win in 11 tries.
“I thought we were moving the ball well on offense, but when (C.F.) started scoring, we had little choice but to play catch-up. That took us out of the game plan,” Waycott said. “The majority of these guys will be back next year, which is a positive sign.”
C.F. closed out the scoring early in the fourth quarter when Anthony Rivera picked off a Lincoln pass and raced 60 yards. The shutout was the third on the season for the Warriors and their first since September.
The focus now shifts to North Smithfield, a club that C.F. fell to by a 27-6 count earlier this month.
“We certainly didn’t play our best game that day, but we’ll see what happens,” Jackson said as he walked out of Macomber Stadium.
CENTRAL FALLS, 34-0
Lincoln 0-0-0-0 – 0
Central Falls 13-14-0-7 – 34
CF – Joel Peralta 44 pass from Brandon Canuto (Canuto kick).
CF – Peralta 17 pass from Canuto (kick failed).
CF –Kenuel Lopez 1 run (Peralta from Canuto).
CF – Larry Cruz 46 pass from Canuto (kick failed).
CF – Anthony Rivera 60 interception return (Armando Andrade kick).