WOOD RIVER JUNCTION --- Cumberland knew exactly what it was going to get out of Chariho on Tuesday night -- a strong ground game to contain and a tough defense to penetrate offensively.
The Chargers controlled the clock by racking up 260 yards on 58 carries and limited the Clippers to just 151 yards of real estate en route to a 14-0 triumph in their Division II semifinal-round matchup.
Four-yard touchdown runs by Jordan Cassidy early in the second quarter and Brandon Cahoon midway through the third accounted for the scoring for the winners, who will make their second-ever Super Bowl trip when they take on Central on Sunday at noon at Cranston Stadium.
“They’re a very good football team,” Cumberland coach Chris Skurka said of the Chargers, who have now won 10 straight contests. “They just took it to us. We had some opportunities to do some things, but obviously, they didn‘t come out the way we wanted them to.
“But I’m just proud of every single one of the seniors that gave me everything they had all season long. I wish the outcome was different for them, but what are you going to do? Give credit to Chariho. They’re the No. 1 seed and they played a very good game.”
The Clippers, who came into the game with seven straight victories, had their best drive of the game midway through the second quarter after Cassidy’s TD with 8:12 on the clock.
On 14 plays, they drove 72 yards from their 27 to the Chargers’ 1-yard line in a drive that absorbed 5½ minutes off the clock and saw quarterback Brendan Guerin complete six of nine passes for 58 yards.
On the next play, the Clippers tried to pound the ball up the middle, but they fumbled it just short of the goal line, and a swarm of Chargers pounced on the loose ball in the end zone.
The fumble was an unfortunate case of déjà vu for the Clippers, who in a 20-13 defeat to the Chargers earlier in the season, also coughed up the ball at the Chariho one at the start of the game.
In the second half, Chariho had the ball on offense for all but five minutes and 55 seconds, and on their opening possession, they engineered a 15-play, 66-yard drive that milked 7:28 off the clock and resulted in Cahoon’s touchdown run.
The Clippers, meanwhile, only got past midfield once in the second half, as a bad punt, followed by a holding penalty, gave them the ball at the Chariho 47. Three straight completions by Guerin put the ball on the 28, but three straight incomplete passes gave the Chargers back the ball on downs.
While the hosts relied on their ground game for almost the entire night, more than 60 percent of the Clippers’ plays were via the pass. Guerin completed 14 of his 26 attempts for 107 yards and an interception on a desperation pass late in the game.
Cumberland 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Chariho 0 7 7 0 -- 14
CHAR -- Jordan Cassidy 4 run (Cody Rathburn kick)
CHAR -- Brandon Cahoon 4 run (Cody Rathburn kick)