CUMBERLAND – Blowouts in the postseason are few and far between, but on Friday night, Cumberland picked up a lopsided victory against a club that had given them difficult battles over the years.
Junior tailback Mike Stock ran for 168 yards on 24 carries, and the Clippers’ ground game received a big helping hand from its offensive line in totaling over 300 yards, controlling the clock, and paving the way for a 42-7 triumph over Coventry in their Division II quarterfinal-round affair at Tucker Field.
The Clippers, the second seed out of the II-B ranks, will next duel the victor of today’s 1:30 p.m. quarterfinal-rounder at Barry Field between St. Raphael and Woonsocket in next weekend’s semifinals.
A victory by the Villa Novans, the II-A’s top seed, will result in a game next Saturday afternoon at Barry Field, but a win by the Saints, the II-B’s fourth seed, will mean that the Clippers will host them next Friday back at Tucker.
While the Clippers and head coach Chris Skurka will play the waiting game and see where they will land next weekend, they took great pride last night in posting an impressive victory over an Oakers team (the II-A’s third seed) that had given them tight games through the years. Their last four meetings were decided by a total of 16 points.
“We just did a great job,” offered Skurka. “I didn’t expect a game like this. You never expect a game to be this one-sided, but it is what it is. We’re just very happy to be in the semifinals, and whatever happens, we’ll take it as it comes.”
The victory erased the sting of last weekend’s 14-0 loss to West Warwick in their regular-season finale on the Clippers’ turf that determined the top seed in the playoffs and saw the hosts commit a stunning seven turnovers.
“We learned from our mistakes last week,” admitted Skurka. “We still had a couple of turnovers tonight, and we still haven’t played our best game yet. I think it’s still inside of us to play even better than we did tonight.”
No group of players turned in a better performance than the O-line, which manhandled the Oakers in the trenches and paved the way for Stock, junior quarterback Tyler Calabro (64 yards on nine carries), and fullback Joe Fine (two rushing TDs) to enjoy splendid nights.
“The offensive line deserves a lot of credit tonight,” remarked Skurka. “We kind of controlled the line of scrimmage and we were able to really run the football and control the clock, and when you can do that and play very good defense, anytime that happens, you’re going to be in good shape.”
The Clippers were in good shape right from the start, striking quickly on the game’s opening possession with an eight-play, 64-yard drive that was capped by Calabro’s first TD pass of the night, an 11-yard slant pass to Chris Hayes, 3:46 into play.
The Oakers helped that drive with the half’s only penalty, jumping offsides on a fourth-and-2 from the Clippers’ 44 and the hosts getting ready to punt. That gave Cumberland the first down, and two plays later, Stock broke off a 32-yard run to give the Clippers the ball on the Oakers’ 15.
Both teams exchanged turnovers in the final six minutes of the first quarter, but 3½ minutes into the second quarter, the Clippers doubled their lead on a 52-yard TD pass from Calabro to Stock and the second of six extra points in a row by Calabro.
With the Clippers facing a second-and-14, Stock reeled in a five-yard dump pass from Calabro and took it to the house, following a few timely blocks by his teammates before sprinting the final 20 yards by himself.
Minutes later, the Oakers turned the ball over on downs on a fourth-and-1 at their 48, and from there, the Clippers took nearly six minutes off the clock in an 11-play drive that saw Stock hammer his way into the end zone on a five-yard carry with 29 seconds left in the half. That run put him at the 100-yard mark for the game.
And the Clippers didn’t stop there. After the Oakers quickly went three-and-out on the first series of the second half, the Clippers made it a 28-0 contest with nine minutes on the clock on a 52-yard touchdown run by Calabro.
And on the last play of the third quarter, Cumberland’s lead ballooned to 35-0 on a one-yard plunge to paydirt by Fine.
The Knotty Oakers finally got on the scoreboard with 7:51 to go in the game on a five-yard touchdown run by Mike Nolan, but the Clippers got that score back with 1:04 on the clock on a 10-yard TD run by Fine.