CRANSTON—It was too much Hyde and not enough Jekyll for the South Kingstown football team Saturday afternoon at Cranston West.
After playing a strong 23 minutes of football things turned ugly for the Rebels (3-3, 1-3 D-I) as they watched a 14-point lead transform into 28-14 defeat at the hands of the Falcons (2-5, 1-4 D-I).
“Statistically I feel like we did a great job except for two categories; penalties and turnovers,” SK coach Eric Anderson said. “You want to turn the ball over eight times and then I don’t know how many yards in penalties you’re not going to win a football game that way no matter what. I can’t believe how undisciplined we played.”
The two teams traded empty possessions out of the gates but then the Rebels got going as Andrew Benford broke free along the left sideline for a 46-yard touchdown run with 4:26 to play in the opening quarter for a 7-0 SK lead.
The Rebels forced the Falcons into a three-and-out on their next possession and continued to keep the pressure on West’s defense with a long scoring drive spanning the end of the first and start of the second quarters.
After taking over at its own 21-yard line South sputtered to start the drive before Nolan Reifsteck ended the first quarter by taking a toss and picking up 29 yards to convert what had been a third-and-15 situation.
The Rebels marched down to the Falcons’ one-yard line before two false start penalties over the course of three plays pushed SK back to third-and-goal at the 11-yard line.
The errors didn’t cost South though, as Reifsteck picked up nine yards on third down and Rafael Pires finished off the drive with a two-yard plunge on fourth down for a 14-0 SK lead four minutes into the second quarter.
From there things began to break down for the Rebels, yet it wouldn’t be until the final play of the half that they finally paid for their mistakes.
A long return set West up at SK’s 29-yard line on its ensuing drive but the Rebels’ defense held and forced a turnover on downs.
South’s next drive nearly ended in disaster on a fourth-and-13 punt when the ball was snapped well over Ryan Worthington’s head but the punter/quarterback managed to avoid West’s rush and get a soccer-style kick away to set the Falcon’s up at South’s 43-yard line.
Once again the Rebels wriggled out of a tough situation when Jake Pare recovered a fumble but South gave the ball right back on their ensuing possession when Benford fumbled at South’s 43-yard line with 45 seconds remaining in the opening half.
It appeared as if SK would escape unscathed yet again after West’s first two plays from scrimmage went 18 yards in the wrong direction and Cranston quarterback Steven Furtado’s pass on third down was batted down at the line of scrimmage by defensive end Kyle Favreau.
Then the Rebels finally got burned.
On fourth-and-29 from their own 39-yard line Furtado floated a pass 30 yards down the middle of the field with seven seconds remaining that was hauled in by Olusayo Banjo amongst a crowd of Cranston and SK players.
Banjo broke free from the initial scrum, raced to the left side of the field and broke another one-on-one tackle down field before winning a foot race to the end zone with no time left on the clock.
“The ball was in the air for what seemed like forever and we didn’t make a play on the ball,” Anderson said. “Maybe our kids thought it was impossible for that to happen, I don’t know, but it just wasn’t a very good play on our part.
“It might have swung the momentum for them a little bit going into halftime figuring instead of 14-0 they’re getting the ball and it’s 14-7.”
Ultimately, it would prove to the be the turning point as all but one of South Kingstown’s second-half possessions ended in a turnover.
The Rebels managed to stay in front through the third quarter but on the third play of the fourth Furtado found Isaiah Alvarez on a pass up the middle for a 34-yard touchdown on fourth-and-nine to tie the game.
South’s ensuing drive ended two plays in when Worthington was picked off by Brendon Iannelli, who returned the ball to the SK 20-yard line.
Four plays later Alvarez ran the ball in from four yards out for his second touchdown of the quarter and more importantly to give Cranston West its first lead with eight minutes to play in the game.
Even with how poorly things had gone for the Rebels in the second half they still had a number of chances to tie or take the lead in the final eight minutes.
After the Alvarez touchdown SK began its next drive at its own 27 with two rushes from Pires and another from Benford to set up a fourth-and-two.
The Rebels came out in a punt formation but instead a ran a direct snap to Pires, who gained the necessary yards for the first down. Unfortunately for the Rebels, an offsides penalty negated the conversion.
Backed up to a fourth-and-seven, South had to punt the ball away with 6:32 left in the fourth quarter but the Rebels would get another shot after forcing the Falcons into a three-and-out of their own.
Cranston West’s punt would be a beauty though, as the ball was downed at South’s one-yard line to force the Rebels to go 99 yards in 3:47 to tie the game.
SK worked its way off its own goal line on a series of short runs from Pires and Benford before Worthington connected with Patrick Carlson on an 11-yard gain to move the ball to the South 23-yard line.
As it was the week before against La Salle, however, SK’s fate was sealed with an interception as Worthington was picked off by Alex Cortellessa, who brought the ball back 35 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.