BURRILLVILLE -- Burrillville High’s high-scoring offense has received plenty of credit for the team’s strong run in the Division III ranks this season, but on Saturday morning, it was the Broncos’ defense that led the way to a very impressive Homecoming Day victory over Narragansett High.
The Broncos’ ‘D’ forced five turnovers and limited the Mariners to 145 yards of offense en route to a 33-0 shutout before a big gathering at Alumni Field that moved Burrillville one win away from its first playoff berth since 2006.
The Broncos, who improved to 4-2 in the division and hover in a three-way tie for second place with the Moses Brown School and Middletown High, can pick up that win in front of their home fans next Saturday at 2 p.m. by beating a young Tiverton High team that is 1-5 and has lost four straight.
“That’s very exciting around here,” Burrillville head coach Gennaro Ferraro noted about the playoffs. “We haven’t had that talk around here in a while. The kids want it, and right now, we’re just going to work hard and prepare for Tiverton.”
The Broncos were well-prepared for their duel with the Mariners, who took the hour-long drive to Burrillville with a 2-3 mark and hopes of busing home with a triumph that would have kept them in the playoff hunt.
Instead, the Mariners slumped off with their most lopsided loss and worst offensive effort of the season, thanks largely to the overall performance of the Broncos’ defense.
“Our defense has played well all season long, kept us in games, and played together as a unit,” offered Ferraro. “We knew Narragansett was a good team coming in. They really played well against Lincoln last weekend, and we knew that our defense this week had to attack their style of offense and it worked in our favor."
Two big defensive plays in the third quarter by Burrillville stood out in this contest, with the first one coming with 3:46 to play and the Broncos holding on to a 13-0 lead.
The Mariners put together their best drive of the morning midway through this quarter by marching from their 23 to the Broncos’ one on nine plays, with the big play coming on a 41-yard bomb from quarterback Mark Griffith to Tom Fitzpatrick that brought the ball to the Burrillville 11.
But on the 10th play, tailback Kiernan Kenny tried to score on a handoff to his right, but he was stripped of the ball near the line of scrimmage. Defensive back Dylan Armstrong scooped up the ball and brought it to the 25 before he was brought down from behind.
“The fumble down there at the goal line was the play of the game because it changed the momentum,” said Ferraro. “We were up 13-0 and they were going down to score, so that definitely was the game-changer.”
The second play definitely put a dagger in Narragansett’s comeback hopes and happened on the final play of the quarter with the Mariners pinned on their own 7-yard-line. A bad snap to Griffith sailed past him and into the end zone, and the Broncos' Dan Mattera quickly fell on the ball for a touchdown.
The Broncos scored the only points they needed with 43.5 seconds left in the first quarter with a 1-yard keeper up the middle by quarterback Roger Blanchard. It capped a long 16-play, 72-yard drive that swallowed close to nine minutes off the clock.
Brendan Darigan’s extra point made it a 7-0 contest and the score remained that way for the rest of the half. The Mariners tried to get on the board with 27 seconds to play in the half on a 28-yard field goal by Connor Timpson, but his kick was blocked by Ed Maione.
In the opening minutes of the second half, the Broncos lost the services of Darigan, their top tailback, to a left ankle injury, but fullback Kevin Deschamps took over the workload in the backfield and soon scored on a 14-yard touchdown run to make it a 13-0 game.
The Broncos’ final two touchdowns came on a 3-yard touchdown run by Deschamps with 3:07 to play and another fumble recovery in the end zone by Joshua Wall, who recovered a blocked punt by Ryan Harty with 1:19 to play.
Deschamps ended the contest with 95 yards on 15 carries (all in the second half), while Blanchard completed 10 of 16 passes for 128 yards, with seven of the completions going to Armstrong for 94 yards. Scott Hingley also contributed three sacks on defense.
Narragansett 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Burrillville 7 0 14 12 -- 33
B – Roger Blanchard 1 run (Brendan Darigan kick)
B – Kevin Deschamps 14 run (pass failed)
B – Dan Mattera fumble recovery in end zone (Ed Maione pass from Roger Blanchard)
B – Kevin Deschamps 3 run (kick failed)
B – Joshua Wall fumble recovery in end zone (run failed)
First downs 7 15
Rushes-yards 26-77 33-154
Passing 6-15-1 10-16-2
Sacked-yards lost 3-19 0-0
Net passing 52 128
Punts-average 2-29.0 2-24.5
Fumbles-lost 6-2 2-0
Penalties-yards 1-5 6-45
RUSHING: N – Francis Castrovillari 3-28, Mark Griffith 7-21, Julien Nelson 6-19, Steve Moio 1-8, Kiernan Kenny 4-7, Reed Nelson 1-0, Mike Paradise 2-(-1), Kullen McGill 1-(-2), Vincent Santos 1-(-3). B – Kevin Deschamps 15-95, Brendan Darigan 11-41, Roger Blanchard 7-18.
PASSING: N – Mark Griffith 5-13-1-59, Julien Nelson 1-1-0-12, Kullen McGill 0-1-0-0. B – Kevin Deschamps 10-16-2-128.
RECEIVING: N – Tom Fitzpatrick 4-72, Kiernan Kenny 1-3, Julien Nelson 1-(-4). B – Dylan Armstrong 7-94, Ed Maione 3-34.