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PAWTUCKETâ€”Few teams in Division II have shown the ability to match the North Kingstown football team score for score this season but Sunday at Pariseau Field St. Raphael was more than up to the task.
After a relatively low-scoring first half the two teams combined for 48 points in the third quarter as the Sainted marched away with a 54-34 victory.
â€śYouâ€™ve got a lot of real good athletes on the field. Theyâ€™ve got a lot of real good athletes and weâ€™ve got real good athletes and it was an explosion of real good football for a while,â€ť NK coach Joe Gilmartin said. â€śThey just played better football than we did.â€ť
â€śâ€¦The reality is they controlled tempo. They were able to play offense at their tempo and we were not able to play offense at our tempo. Some of the points that we had we scored so fast that we still werenâ€™t able to wear them down and really create the rhythm of offense that we want to create.â€ť
Early on there were no indications of the offensive explosion that occurred Sunday as â€“ despite both teams getting their fair share of chances â€“ Saints only led 7-0 after the first quarter.
St. Raphael tacked on a second touchdown with seven minutes left in the second quarter but the Skippers responded as a 58-yard pass from Matt Deignan to Jacob Porter set up one-yard touchdown run from Deignan two plays later.
Neither team scored on their remaining possessions in the second quarter to make the score 14-6 heading into halftime.
Then â€“ take a deep breath â€“ the game dove into the depths of the bizarre.
On the first play from scrimmage St. Rays Josh Alves broke free for a 55-yard run and two plays later James Kelly ran it in from two yards out.
Nick Chevalier fumbled on NKâ€™s first play from scrimmage but three plays into Saints ensuing drive he picked up an Emmanuel Leak fumble off a strip sack from Jake Mota and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown.
St. Rays didnâ€™t waste any time though as Leak made amends by rumbling 43 yards on a quarterback keeper for a touchdown on the Saints first play from scrimmage.
North Kingstown punched back, as Tristan Loghlin took the ensuing kickoff back 80 yards to the house for a score.
St. Rays answered, as Leak found Kelly on a go route down the right sideline on the second play of the Saintsâ€™ ensuing drive for a 62-yard touchdown catch.
All of this took just five minutes of actual game â€“ 35 points mind you â€“ and it didnâ€™t stop there.
Scott Deering fumbled on Northâ€™s first snap to give the ball back to St. Rays but this time the Saints answered with a long scoring drive â€“ at least as far as this gameâ€™s standards go; six plays and 54 yards in three minutes capped off with a Leak 17-yard run.
Surely with just three minutes to play in the quarter that would be it for scoring in the third but a little over 90 seconds later a 31-yard pass from Deignan to the end zone was tipped by Porter but then secured by Trevor Huntington in the back of the end zone to make it 41-27 St. Rays with 1:27 left.
Even with all the lunacy of the third quarter North Kingstown still had a shot in Saturdayâ€™s game as the Skippers stopped the Saints on their opening drive of the fourth to take over at their own six-yard line.
North picked up a couple of first downs but its drive stalled when it failed to convert a fourth-and-10 at its own 35 and six plays later Kelly scored from three yards out to make it a three-score game with five minutes to play.
The Skippers continued to fight with Deignan scoring 10 seconds later on a 60-yard TD run but with NK incapable of stopping St. Rays the home team marched down field to seal Northâ€™s fate with another touchdown.
â€śWe didnâ€™t play very good defense. We didnâ€™t play very good offense at times and we turned the ball over a lot,â€ť Gilmartin said.
â€śâ€¦We had poor execution on two plays that we ended up fumbling the football on and thatâ€™s inexcusable. We didnâ€™t play a very good football game today.â€ť
The loss puts the Skippers in quite the predicament as there is the potential for five teams to be tied atop the Division II-B standings at 5-2 in league play if NK, Saints and Rogers can each beat teams with losing records Friday night.
If so, NKâ€™s playoff fate would hinge on what happens between West Warwick and Cumberland as the tiebreaker to determine the division leader would be defensive points allowed if the Wizards win.
DIVISION II-B PLAYOFF PICTURE
If West Warwick wins and allows fewer than 20 points
1. West Warwick (fewest points allowed)
2. Cumberland (2-1 pool play, defeated Rogers)
3. Rogers (defeated St. Raphael and North Kingstown
4. St. Raphael (defeated North Kingstown)
5. North Kingstown
If West Warwick wins and allows more than 20 points)
1. Rogers (fewest points allowed)
2. St. Raphael (2-1 pool play, defeated North Kingstown)
3. North Kingstown (defeated West Warwick and Cumberland)
4. West Warwick (defeated Cumberland)
If West Warwick loses
1. Cumberland (best record)
2. Rogers (defeated St. Raphael and North Kingstown)
3. St. Raphael (defeated North Kingstown)
4. North Kingstown (5-2)
5. West Warwick (4-3)
*Scenarios apply only if North Kingstown,
Rogers and St. Raphael win games Friday
against teams with losing records