LINCOLN – Hurricane Avenger blew through Ferguson Field and proceeded to swallow up the Lincoln High football team.
In a matchup of Division II unbeatens, East Greenwich found the end zone early and often in a dominating 46-21 victory over the host Lions on Friday night. Now 5-0 in league play and 6-0 overall, the Avengers possess the inside track as far as the Division II-A regular season title. The setback drops the Lions to 4-1 in II-A, 4-2 overall.
East Greenwich scored on all five of its offensive possessions in the first half (four touchdowns, one field goal) en route to enjoying a 39-14 advantage at the break. The Avengers didn’t take long to pad their lead as Matt Licciardi broke off a 64-yard run for a touchdown on the first play of the third quarter.
A senior, Licciardi finished with 180 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. East Greenwich’s quarterback, senior Conrad Swanson, was 17-for-21 for 229 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a score. The Avengers’ top pass catcher was junior Andrew Plympton, who caught seven passes from Swanson for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
For the Lions, junior Tyler Dusty collected 106 rushing yards and one touchdown on 15 carries.
A sign of what was to come for the Lions came on the opening kickoff, which ended with Lincoln fumbling and East Greenwich taking over at the home team’s 42-yard line. The Avengers needed just six plays to complete their first scoring drive of the contest as Licciardi ran off left tackle from nine yards out.
“Not only was it good to get the turnover, but to go down and score … that really put the ball in our favor,” said EG head coach John George.
Lincoln responded to the turnover that led to an EG score with a four-play scoring drive that was aided when quarterback Randall Hien scrambled and picked up 43 yards on third down. John Jaramillo stretched out the EG defense for an 18-yard touchdown that tied the game at 7-7 at 9:16 of the first quarter.
East Greenwich broke the deadline behind a 7-yard score by Licciardi, then forced Lincoln into a three-and-out. Down 21-7 early in the second, Lincoln made it a one-score game as Dusty broke free for a 19-yard touchdown. The Avengers answered with a field goal that made the score 24-14 in favor of EG with 7:44 left before the break.
A 32-yard pass from Swanson to Plympton upped EG’s lead to 30-14. Lincoln appeared to throw a serious wrench in the Avengers’ potent attack after junior Erick Solanzano punted the ball 52 yards down to the EG 12. With 2:03 remaining, East Greenwich went into two-minute offensive mode. Swanson found Plympton three times on the drive with the final connection resulting a 14-yard touchdown with 54 seconds left.
Said George, “That’s our quarterback making good decisions. I thought we had too far to go and not enough time to get there, but that’s him directing the attack.”
“Credit to them, they took what was there and they made plays,” said LHS head coach Sean Cavanaugh. “Defensively, they seemed to be everywhere we wanted to be. They’re undefeated for a reason. You’ve got to play mistake-free football against them. We didn’t do that, especially in the first half.”
After Licciardi’s big run to open the third quarter, the Lions settled down and started to play their brand of football. The running game was the focal point behind a 16-play drive that Hien capped off with a 7-yard scoring strike to junior Nick Toro. Lincoln also mounted another lengthy drive in the fourth quarter but turned the ball over on downs.
Both teams are back in action next Friday with EG hosting West Warwick while Lincoln travels to Rogers.