PAWTUCKET --- Toll Gate High marched into Pariseau Field on Friday determined to spoil St. Raphael Academyâs âHomecoming Nightâ and bus home with an upset win that would have lifted them off the schneid in the Division II-B standings.
And for an entire quarter, the Titans appeared to be on the verge of stunning their hosts, as they controlled the clock for all but 1:19 of the period, held a 6-0 lead, and appeared to be headed for another score at the start of the second quarter.
But after the Saints forced them to turn the ball over on downs in the opening minute of that quarter, they came alive offensively. SRA erupted for 28 points before halftime and never looked back in securing a 40-14 victory.
The win, which raised the Saintsâ division record to 4-1 and put them one win away from a return trip to the Division II playoffs, was highlighted by the big performances turned in by senior quarterback Julian Diaz and junior tailback Charles Correa.
Diaz enjoyed the best night of his high school career by competing all eight of his passes for a career-best 238 yards and four touchdowns, and Correa ran for 151 yards and two TDs on just seven carries and also reeled in a 50-yard bomb from Diaz for another score with 2:59 left in the first half and a 22-point lead for the hosts.
Toll Gate (0-5 in II-B play) also received a splendid game from their workhorse tailback, senior Derick Durand, who ran for 142 yards and both of his teamâs touchdowns on 27 handoffs.
Durand was especially busy in the first quarter, as he carried the ball a dozen times for 77 yards and gave the visitors a 6-0 lead with a 14-yard TD run. That score capped a game-opening 12-play, 64-yard drive that absorbed 6 minutes and 35 seconds off the clock.
The Titans eventually got the ball back with 4:06 to play in the quarter by pouncing on a fumble by the Saints on the Titansâ 29. Eight plays later, they had the ball on the Saintsâ nine, but the drive eventually died there in the early stages.
With 10:26 left in the half, Correa tied the score with an electrifying 89-yard touchdown run that saw him duck and weave around three missed tackles at the SRA 25 and near the Saintsâ sideline and then break free for his long score. Julian Diaz kicked the extra point, and the Saints had the lead.
With 7:44 to play, Correa scored again on a nine-yard run, and with 4:56 on the clock, the Saints upped their lead to 21-6 on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Diaz and Zach Mays, who was all by himself in the middle of the end zone when he caught the ball, and a two-point conversion run by James Berry.
Diaz finished his wonderful night by throwing touchdown passes on his final two throws of the game. He lofted a 14-yard strike to tight end Davon Robertson midway through the third quarter and found a wide-open Berry with a 55-yard aerial on the second play of the fourth quarter.
While this game was an easy one for the Saints, the rest of their II-B schedule looks a bit more challenging. Next Friday, they will host Mount Hope (2-2), and on Saturday, Nov. 5, they head to âThe Reservationâ in North Scituate to tangle with Ponaganset (3-1) for a 1:30 p.m. showdown.