Sports editor emeritus
CENTRAL FALLS â€” Defense ruled the night as Hope High held on for a 14-6 victory over Central Falls on Friday evening at the Higginson Avenue gridiron.
The visitors led 8-0 at halftime, only to see Central Falls climb to within two points when Carlos Hernandez picked up a botched snap from center by Hope on an attempted punt and returned the ball 45 yards for a touchdown.
It was the only time Central Falls would score all night.
â€śOur offense did not click tonight,â€ť Warriors coach Jeff Lapierre said after the game ended. â€śWe couldnâ€™t complete passes, we threw interceptions and fumbled the ball. It just wasnâ€™t our night.â€ť
Hope put the game away when quarterback Wil Rodriguez hit Theo Wise with a short pass that the hard-running halfback took 45 yards through C.F.â€™s defense for the insurance tally with 4:40 left in the contest. Wise had also scored Hopeâ€™s first TD on an eight-yard run with 7:15 left in the first half.
The game was all about blocking and tackling near the line of scrimmage. The Warriorsâ€™ first possession of the game ended in an interception by Hopeâ€™s Devonte Youn at the home teamâ€™s 31-yard line. But Hopeâ€™s offense couldnâ€™t move the ball on three downs. C.F.â€™s Julian Soares deflected a pass on third down and cornerback Marcelino DaVeiga picked off Rodriguez on fourth down at the 17-yard line.
The Warriors then turned the ball over on first down with a fumble, setting the tone for a sloppy night of offensive football. They also fumbled a punt early in the second quarter that turned into the first points of the game. Hopeâ€™s Bryan Zapata scooped up the ball at the Warriorsâ€™ 32. An apparent touchdown run by Rodriguez on first down was called back due to a penalty but the persistent QB got 18 yards back with a pass completion to Wise that put the ball at the 18-yard line.
On third down, halfback Marques Young went for the first down at the 10. Hope then got an 8-yardTD run on second down from Wise to take an early lead. Rodriguez ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 advantage.
Central Falls fumbled away the football at Hopeâ€™s 35-yard line with 62 seconds left in the half after quarterback Malik Velazquez completed two passes. The Warriorsâ€™ Soares then intercepted a Hope pass with 26 seconds left in the half. Velazquez ran for 15 yards to Hopeâ€™s 8 before time ran out in the half. That was the deepest penetration of the game for C.F.â€™s offense.
Central Falls forced Hope to punt early in the third quarter. The snap went over the head of punter Terrance Almeida. C.F.â€™s Carlos Hernandez won a footrace to the ball and ran into the end zone untouched to put the Warriors back into the game at 8-6 with 7:44 left in the quarter. A two-point conversion run went nowhere as C.F. failed to tie the game.
The Warriorsâ€™ defense forced a punt following a third-down sack shared by Alex Gonzalez and Hernandez. C.F.â€™s offense turned the ball over on downs before its defense forced another punt. Taking over at their own 40, the Warriors made one first down before a penalty and fumbled snap from center stalled the drive.
Hope took over on its own 27 with 7:05 left in the game. Halfback Jaekwon Sennon broke off a 33-yard run to midfield before Rodriquez found Wise on third-and-18 for a short pass that turned into a 45-yard touchdown completion.
A minor skirmish between the two teams with 1:26 left in the game forced a 10-minute delay while officials consulted at midfield and the two teams huddled on their respective sidelines.
Central Falls fell to 1-3 in Division IV with the loss. Hope improved to 2-3.