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WARWICK â€“ Donâ€™t count the Shea Raiders out just yet.
In a game Shea simply had to have to keep its razor-thin playoff hopes afloat, the Raiders grounded host Warwick Vets Friday night, 13-0. Defense was the calling card for head coach Dino Campopianoâ€™s crew as Shea racked up seven sacks and two turnovers. Offensively the Raiders did just enough, scoring on their first and last possessions of the Division II-B contest.
The win allows Shea (3-3, 5-3 overall) to remain mathematically alive heading into next Fridayâ€™s critical contest at Johnston.
â€śAll we want is a chance, which is the best we can ask for,â€ť Campopiano said.
Nobody has to tell the Raiders what the problem has been in recent weeks. Shea entered Friday having surrendered an average of 35 points in its last two league contests, both of which were losses.
Against a Hurricanes squad that now has been shutout three times in the last four weeks, the Raiders found their stride, harassing Vets quarterback Chris Fraser virtually every time he dropped back to pass. The results speak for themselves, as Fraser managed just seven completions on 22 throws for 92 yards and an interception.
â€śThe defense played unbelievable,â€ť said Campopiano matter-of-factly. â€śThey won us the game.â€ť
Truer words were never spoken. Sheaâ€™s tenacity helped overcome five fumbles, two coming on special teams. In both instances Warwick Vets was awarded a short field, but couldnâ€™t capitalize. The Hurricanes were awarded first-and-goal at the Raider 5-yard line as the third quarter came to an end after junior George Miller recovered the ball after it had apparently touched a Shea player.
Entrusted with protecting a 7-0 as the fourth quarter started, Sheaâ€™s defense rose to the challenge. The Raiders stuffed the Hurricanes on three consecutive runs before Fraserâ€™s pass on fourth down sailed incomplete.
â€śIt was definitely a defensive-won game,â€ť said Campopiano. â€śThey buckled down when they had to.â€ť
The Raiders dodged a similar bullet earlier in the game when senior Freddy Gobewole set up to return a punt. A teammate cut off Gobewoleâ€™s path, resulting in the ball touching a Raider and the Hurricanes setting up at Sheaâ€™s 17. Once again nothing came of the prime scoring chance, as Warwick Vets turned the ball over on downs.
â€śIf our defense doesnâ€™t play well,â€ť Campopiano said, â€śthen we donâ€™t win the game.â€ť
The Raiders took the opening kick and marched 49 yards on 10 plays, Jamal Tucker capping the drive off with a 1-yard plunge. Shea rushed for 215 yards with Gobewole finishing three yards short of 100. The shifty playmaker capped off the scoring in the fourth with an 18-yard scamper. That was the result of a sack by Malik Moody and a fumble recovery by Porfirio Baez.
What concerned Campopiano was the lack of a passing game. Quarterback Adilson DaSilva didnâ€™t complete any of his five attempts, all of which came in the closing stages of the first half.
â€śWeâ€™ve got to throw the ball better,â€ť said Campopiano. â€śThere are things we need to clean up.â€ť
It seemed somewhat fitting that on a night the defense dominated, the Raiders concluded matters with a sack of Fraser after the quarterback was chased out of the pocket for what must have felt like the thousandth time.
â€śThey were faster than us,â€ť said Hurricanes head coach Mike Nappa after his crew fell to 0-6.