PROVIDENCE — It was one of those last side with the ball wins kind of games between East Providence High School football and host Moses Brown Saturday morning, Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the …
PROVIDENCE — It was one of those last side with the ball wins kind of games between East Providence High School football and host Moses Brown Saturday morning, Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the visiting Townies earning a come-from-behind 42-35 non-league victory over the Quakers on the East Side of the capital city.
EPHS sophomore quarterback Jacob Duarte's cut-back, 30-yard touchdown run with 3 minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the contest proved the deciding score. The Townies had trailed all game up until that moment. Justin Jardine's sixth kick for point accounted for the final tally. Just over a minute later, Christian Torres' acrobatic interception sealed the win for the locals.
"It was a nice to get another win," said EPHS head coach Jon Stringfellow. "I thought it was a good response by the kids. We fell behind early, but they didn't get down on themselves. They kept working, kept executing the plays and we got back in it."
As is easily deciphered from the total, defense was at a minimum in the game played as a consolation for both squads as they attempt to stay sharp between the end of their league slates and their respective season finales on Thanksgiving Day.
East Providence, which improved to 4-6 overall, did not earn a berth into the Division II playoffs. The Townies, of course, continue their historic rivalry with LaSalle back in Providence on Thanksgiving morning November 23.
Moses Brown dropped to 6-4 overall. The Quakers made the D-III championship tournament, falling 21-20 to Pilgrim/Warwick in the quarterfinals. Moses Brown travels to Pawtucket for its holiday outing next Thursday morning with St. Raphael.
It was the Quakers who appeared the more ready for the contest, having remained active with their playoff appearance the week prior while the Townies had been off since losing to Hendricken in another non-leaguer on October 27.
Moses Brown was first on the board late in the first half as a QB Luke Porcaro hit Matthew Ziady on an out-and-up pattern for 20 yards and a touchdown. Zakiah Hopper's kick for point put the hosts up 7-0 with 2:16 left in the opening period.
Scoring was pretty much fast and furious the rest of the way.
The Townies, donning their military appreciation camouflage uniforms, next went three-and-out and a short punt gave Moses Brown the ball at its own 47. Four plays later, the Quakers were in the end zone again, this time on a five-yard run by Myles Craddock, an East Providence resident and backfield starter for Moses Brown. In between, Porcaro connected with Henry Ballou on a go-route down the sideline for a 35-yard gain to set up the score. Another Hopper PAT made it 14-0 hosts less than a minute into the second quarter.
East Providence needed only one play on its ensuing possession to score its first points of the day. Duarte's first touchdown foreshadowed his game winner, cutting back from left to right for 57-yard TD keeper. Jardine's kick trimmed the Townies' deficit to 14-7 with 10:45 to go before intermission.
The back-and-forth continued as the Quakers notched their third TD in some seven minutes, this one a second Porcaro-Ballou hook-up good for a 21-yard strike. Hopper's third extra-point kick made it 21-7 Moses Brown with 7:53 left in the period.
The Townies were the beneficiary of a chip-kick strategy employed by the Quakers as Steven Clark Jr. returned the short boot 22 yards into the Moses Brown end. The senior full back would later cap off the scoring drive with a 20-yard bull rush up the middle. He earlier had a short four-yard burst and Isaac Fox added a 29-run to put EP into the red zone. Jardine's PAT left the score at 21-14 with 6:30 to go.
The Quakers appeared poised to offer up another response, but the EP defense stiffened forcing Moses Brown into a turnover on downs. Colin Roche was the first Townie to wrap up Porcaro as he tried a keeper on fourth down.
The Townies took over at their own 32 and needed just five plays to find the tying touchdown. The drive included a superb sliding catch of 35 yards by Richard Pina as Duarte rolled left on a third-and-10 try. Duarte then connected with Fox on a short pass for three yards before he tucked it in for another keeper and a 31-yard score with 27 seconds showing. Jardine's kick knotted the score at 21 as halftime approached.
Moses Brown regain its rhythm out of the break, scoring to cap the opening possession of the period to retake a 28-21 lead. Nathaniel King raced 24 yards on a jet sweep to account for the touchdown. Hopper's kick put the hosts back on top by seven.
Clark did much of the damage on the next EPHS possession, which once again ended with the score tied. He rushed four times for 54 yards during the drive, including a burst for 35 to drive the Townies deep into the Quakers' end. Lucas Santa Cruz finished the seven-play, 68-yard excursion with a nine-yard TD run off an option pitch by Duarte. Jardine's four PAT made it 28-all with 4:04 left in the third.
Again in quick fashion, though, Moses Brown went back out in front and did so on just a handful of snaps. Craddock ran the last two, the first for 37 yards to the EP five and the next into the end zone inside right. What proved Hopper's last kick made it 35-28 Quakers with 11:45 left in the game.
From there, the Townies were the recipients of a couple of breaks that didn't go their way in an agonizing regular season. East Providence lost a pair of league games, to Cranston West and Mt. Pleasant, on last-minute drives. In each case, the Townies either failed to capitalize on tantalizing potential take-aways or, during the latter loss to the Kilties, were on a wrong end of a fortuitous bounce.
Last Saturday, both of those instances played out and played into EP's favor.
The first came when offensive tackle Machar Francis recovered a free ball in the endzone to account for the deciding touchdown with 3:37 remaining in the contest.
Clark, who otherwise had one of his best days on the ground all fall, appeared headed for his second TD of the day, but he was stripped by a Quaker defender just as he neared the goal line.
To his credit, Machar, who had helped clear a path for his mate earlier in the play, continued to hustle down field and was there on the spot to cover the loose ball for the tuddy. Jardine's kick gave East Providence its first lead and only necessary lead at 42-35.
And to end the game, Torres and the Townies, unlike in the Cranston West game, were able to cling to a pick that would help seal the victory.
Moses Brown made it into EPHS territory on what proved its final drive. Porcaro, under pressure, threw into coverage to his right where the Townies' Torres rose up in front the would-be Quaker receiver, twisted his body left and using that side hand tipped the ball to himself for the INT. He returned it about 25 yards into the Quakers' end, but an EP penalty gave the Townies the ball at their own 30 with just over two minutes left.
"Christian's interception, which we didn't get against Cranston West, and Machar's fumble recovery in the end zone, we didn't get those breaks during the season," said Stringfellow. "Those things didn't go our way for most of the season, so it was good to have those things happen in our favor for once."
Clark helped run out the clock for the locals, running for 10 yards and a first to make Moses Brown burn its second of three timeouts and then for 14 yards and another set of downs, which left the Quakers unable to forestall defeat any longer.
Duarte rushed 10 times for 122 yards and the three TDs. Clark had what Stringfellow believed was not only a season, but career-best 183 yards rushing on 16 attempts. Duarte went 2-for-6 for 58 yards. The catch for Pina, a senior, was the first of his career.
"Jacob and Junior (Clark) work well together. They've been building that all season. Jacob has really been starting to run our offense well the last few games. He's getting more confident with it, which helps out immensely," said Stringfellow. "And Justin did a great job for us all game, not only with his extra points, but with his kickoffs as well. He pinned them deep a couple of times."
The Townies next travel to Providence Thanksgiving Day morning, Nov. 23, to face LaSalle in what will be the 94th holiday meeting between the sides. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m.