SOUTH KINGSTOWN—For the South Kingstown football team Saturday’s Injury Fund contest with neighboring Narragansett was an opportunity to get back to the basics.
“We’ve been working hard all summer on the basics and we came out here and didn’t do anything too flashy, just ran our basic stuff and we need to harp on the things that can hurt you,” SK coach Eric Anderson said.
“Blown coverage, missing blocks, missing assignments, not being where you’re supposed to be, not being lined up correctly. Those are the things we’ll harp on Monday in film session.”
The Division I Rebels got away from the basics early on in Saturday’s game but picked up their play as the contest went along en route to the 23-6 victory over the Division III Mariners.
“We started slow with a few mental mistakes,” Anderson said. “Blown coverage, guy got hit with the ball on a punt that they recovered, blew a coverage after that and there you go. That’s all it takes.”
After forcing a punt on the Mariners’ first possession SK gave Narragansett a second chance as the ensuing punt clipped a Rebel player and was recovered by ’Gansett.
The Mariners didn’t waste the second chance as quarterback Kullen McGill found Austin Butler on a 15-yard touchdown pass to give Narragansett a 6-0 lead with 6:20 remaining in the opening quarter of the 24-minute contest.
South responded quickly though as Andrew Benford broke free for a 75-yard touchdown run on 2nd-and-20 to put SK ahead 7-6 less than 90 seconds later.
“It was good to see the big play ability,” Anderson said. “They deserve it. They’ve worked hard this summer.”
The Mariners seemed poised to bounce right back as McGill found Justin Cronin for a 35-yard completion to give ’Gansett a 1st-and-10 at the SK 34-yard line but in an instant the complexion of the game changed.
On the ensuing play South linebacker Ben Agostini picked off McGill over the middle and returned the ball 78 yards for the touchdown.
“Kullen played a great game he just made one mental mistake where he threw the ball and no one was open,” Narragansett coach Dick Fossa said. “Instead of throwing it away or taking the sack he just threw it where he throughout someone would be and that was obviously a big point in the game.”
“We were driving, had a chance for a field goal – which would have given us the lead – and the kid who caught the ball made a nice run back and from that point on they had all the momentum.”
From there it was all Rebels as South added a third touchdown when quarterback Ryan Worthington found running back Rafael Pires for a six-yard completion early in the second quarter and later tacked on a safety to round out the scoring.
The loss, however, meant little according to Fossa as the Mariners have their focus set solely on what happens in league play.
“The reality is this game means absolutely nothing to us,” Fossa said. “Even next week’s game against Chariho means nothing to us.
“We’re getting ready for Tiverton and the Division III schedule and hopefully when we start facing teams who are similar in size to us we’ll be able to get a bit more of a push on the line, run the ball a little bit better.”
Narragansett also played Saturday’s game without its top two running backs – Reed Nelson and Deontae Stanley – but Fossa doesn’t expect them to be out for the opener against Tiverton.
“If this was a big game they would have been able to play,” Fossa said. “We don’t want it to be a nagging injury that lasts all year where he can’t practice a couple of days because he has to rest.”
The Mariners will have one more non-league game Friday at 7 p.m. at Chariho before opening the regular season on the road at Tiverton Saturday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. at Tiverton.
South Kingstown, meanwhile, will travel to take on Division II contender West Warwick Saturday at 12 p.m. before opening the regular season at home at 7 p.m. against defending Div. I champion Hendricken.