PORTSMOUTH — Without throwing a single pass, the Portsmouth High Patriots football team advanced to the R.I. Division II Super Bowl game by defeating Cranston West, 20-7, at PHS Friday …
PORTSMOUTH — Without throwing a single pass, the Portsmouth High Patriots football team advanced to the R.I. Division II Super Bowl game by defeating Cranston West, 20-7, at PHS Friday night.
On a rainy and windswept turf field at home Friday night, the Patriots elected to stick with their potent ground game which, combined with a stout defense led by Dylan Brandariz, was all they needed to get the job done.
Brandariz made several key defensive plays for his team, and often turned the game into a nightmare for the Falcons’ quarterback, Kelan Cornell.
Patriots quarterback Neal Tullson never threw a pass, but he didn’t need to as he scored all three touchdowns for Portsmouth using his legs.
Cranston West started with a short field due to the Patriots kicking off into the wind. The Falcons moved the ball well on the ground, converting several third-down conversions before a fumbled snap was recovered by Brandariz, setting up the Patriots on their own 26.
Portsmouth could not capitalize, however, and had to punt. Cranston West soon had to do the same, following a tackle by Brandariz for a loss, making it fourth and nine on the Patriots’ 38.
In the second quarter, Tullson ran 16 yards for a first down, then another nine into the end zone. The point-after by George Smith made it 7-0 Patriots with just under three minutes left in the quarter.
Just before the end of the first half, the Patriots thought they had stopped the Falcons on fourth-and-one, but a measurement awarded the first down to Cranston West. An offsides penalty on PHS furthered the ball to the five-yard-line with just 30 seconds left, and a rushing TD tied the game at 7 at halftime.
Early in the third quarter, the Patriots faked a punt on fourth down and handed the ball to Huntley Almeida. He initially got stuffed at the line, but then ran to the left for 20 yards to the 19-yard line and a first down. A few plays later, however, Cranston West took over on downs at their own 12.
The Falcons couldn’t capitalize, however, and their punt into the wind traveled only three yards after the ball was tipped by Brandariz. The Patriots took over at the Falcons’ 15-yard line, and a few plays later Tullson ran it in from the 6 on fourth-and-one. Smith’s point-after was good, making it 14-7 Portsmouth with 3:24 left in the third quarter.
Portsmouth’s defense kept making plays, and the offensive kept running it down the Falcons’ throats. Running back Shane Harvey stepped up big in the second half, moving the chains for Portsmouth and setting up a third TD run for Tullson, making it 20-7 with just over six minutes left. (Portsmouth was stopped on the point-after following a botched snap.)