WOONSOCKET – That’s how you bounce back.
The Woonsocket High football turned the page from last week’s 50-point thrashing against Westerly in impressive fashion on Saturday, rolling to a convincing 44-13 victory over previously unbeaten East Greenwich at Barry Field. The Villa Novans trailed 13-12 at the half but went on to outscore the Avengers, 32-0, over the final two quarters.
“That wasn’t who we are. We turned the ball over eight times and had a bad scheme,” said WHS head coach Charlie Bibeault when asked about returning to the winning column after the Westerly whipping. “Today, we got back to who we are. This showed we weren’t the team we were last week. We went back to basics and it really showed.”
It was a third-quarter play on special teams that turned the tide in Woonsocket’s favor. East Greenwich lined up for a 25-yard field goal after WHS senior Dwayne Robinson-O’Hagan came up with a sack on third down that resulted in a 10-yard loss. On the field goal try, the Novans quickly burst through the line of scrimmage with senior Justo Colon coming up with a thunderous block.
Colon had the awareness to pick up the live ball and with help from sophomore Logan Coles, Colon was able to race to daylight for a 75-yard score that put the Novans up 18-12 at 6:13 of the third quarter.
From there, it was all Woonsocket. Coles rushed up the middle for a 20-yard score with 1:34 left in the third quarter and the touchdowns just kept on coming in the fourth. Robinson-O’Hagan took a screen pass from quarterback Geraldi Paniagua and turned it into a 25-yard score early in the final quarter, then Paniagua saw that sophomore Curtney Davis was wide open for a 24-yard touchdown that had the Novans well on their way, 37-13, with less than five minutes remaining.
For good measure, birthday boy Emmanuel Gomes raced 34 yards for his second touchdown of the game, this one extending Woonsocket’s lead to a commanding 44-13 with 2:31 remaining. Gomes turned 18 on Saturday and was presented a cake as his teammates sang “Happy Birthday.”
Whatever speech that Bibeault delivered to his players after getting waxed by the Bulldogs … East Greenwich head coach John George may want to follow a similar script leading to his team’s next game on Friday against Lincoln. Like the Novans before getting flattened by the Bulldogs, the Avengers entered Saturday with strong early-season credentials. EG was 3-0 overall and 2-0 in II-A and hadn’t scored fewer than 32 points in any of its contests.
“Not to take anything away from them … they’ve got some talented guys. But don’t hang your head. Keep fighting,” said George. “We played with them in the first half and into the third quarter, but then we made some mistakes that we weren’t able to overcome.”
The Avengers got off to an encouraging start, scoring just 1:39 into the contest as quarterback Conrad Swanson threw a 30-yard scoring strike. Down 7-0, Woonsocket moved to within one after Gomes took the pitch and ran untouched down the near sideline for a 64-yard scoring scamper at 4:56 of the opening quarter.
In the second quarter, East Greenwich’s Pedro Alvarez broke free for a 32-yard rush that set up first-and-goal from the Woonsocket 3. On fourth down from the one-yard line, Swanson went low for a touchdown that gave the Avengers a 13-6 lead.
Woonsocket responded with a nine-play drive that Paniagua capped with a 29-yard touchdown to Hezekiah Adeyeye, who raced past the 1-on-1 coverage employed by East Greenwich. The first of three scoring strikes thrown by Adeyeye on the day brought the home team to within one (13-12) with 4:19 left in the half.
Adeyeye is also a member of the Novans’ varsity soccer team while Robinson-O’Hagan returned to the fall team this season after not playing the past two seasons. The plays that both of them turned in against the Avengers was an encouraging development for a WHS program that’s been primarily known as a run-first offense over the past few seasons.
“Last week, we got manhandled at the line of scrimmage even though we were bigger than Westerly. Plus, I thought the spotlight was too big for us,” Bibeault said. “We bounced back strong.”
Saturday’s result means that Woonsocket and East Greenwich have identical league marks (2-1) as the calendar flips to October. Next up for Bibeault and the Villa Novans is a Friday night contest at Johnston.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03