CRANSTON â€“ Taking care of the ball on a rainy night proved to be too tall an order for East Providence High.
Five E.P. turnovers paved the way for three Cranston West High scores in a 19-10 triumph for the Falcons on Friday night. Trailing by three with just over two minutes remaining, East Providence quarterback Brandon Peters was picked off by Nicholas DeMarco in front of the Townie bench and ran 28 yards into the end zone for a score that iced game for the Falcons.
Just for good measure, Peters, who was picked off twice, had the ball knocked free with Cranston West recovering with 1:33 left. The Falcons improve to 2-0 in Division I while the Townies drop to 1-1.
Two Townie turnovers, both the result of option handoffs that didnâ€™t quite connect with the intended runner, were turned into 13 first-half points for the host Falcons. The first time East Providence put the ball on the turf and Cranston West recovered, Jalin Braxton was the guilty of not caressing the pigskin properly. The turnover came after two three-and-outs by the Falcons and one by the Townies.
Cranston West turned the E.P. fumble into a seven play, 48-yard drive with Bryan Stetson covering the lingering one yard remaining for a score at 4:25 of the opening quarter. The scoring play saw Stetson cut back before dragging a Townie would-be-tackler into the end zone. Stefano Marziale added the extra point to make it 7-0.
E.P. started off the ensuing drive at its own 3 after Victor Adewusi encountered difficulty on the kickoff. Consecutive runs covering 13 and 12 yards by Peters got the Townies out of the shadow of their own goal post. Lengthy jaunts by Eric Towne (13 yards) and Braxton (18 yards) pushed the Townies deep into Falcon territory, setting up what appeared to be a 35-yard score by Peters, who found daylight after breaking off to the near sideline.
The score was called back on a holding call, but still the Townies continued to pound away. E.P. was looking at a third-and-goal from the Falcon 3 as the second quarter got underway. A two-yard run by Braxton set up a fourth-and-goal scenario from the 1, which Cranston West snuffed out, stuffing Peters behind the line of scrimmage.
Just like that, a promising 96-yard march came up one yard short for E.P.
The Townies saw another drive dry up deep in Falconsâ€™ territory when Peters had trouble getting a grip. The soiled exchange came one play after Cranston West was whistled for a helmet-to-helmet infraction that placed the ball at its own 10-yard-line with E.P. looking at first-and-goal.
The Falcons took the Townie turnover and turned it into six points just before the half ended. Stetson capped off the 12-play drive â€“ one that saw Cranston West convert twice on third down â€“ with a 10-yard running spree.
Halftime did little to curb the Falconsâ€™ momentum as the Townies were forced into a three-and-out on their initial possession. Cranston West left the door open after quarterback Matt Rousseau put the ball on Cranston Stadiumâ€™s synthetic surface. Townies defensive lineman Jayden DeCosta came up with the loose pigskin at the Cranston West 35.
Once again the Townies flashed some promise on offense with Peters covering 20 yards on the first snap. The drive stalled at the 15 but this time the Townies were able to come away with something courtesy of a 31-yard field goal by Dominic Leonardo.
Braxton, who was coming off consecutive 100-yard rushing output, delivered the big play the Townies were desperately seeking just before the conclusion of the third quarter. The East Providence captain found a hole and accelerating through it, ripping off a 75-yard scoring run that saw Braxton cross midfield with no one in a Cranston West jersey within 10 yards of catching him.
Now nursing a 13-10 lead, the Falcons put themselves in position to add more points after Rousseau broke off a 41-yard run. A sack by DeCosta placed the Falcons in two-down territory at the Townie 18, but East Providence dodged a huge bullet when Cranston West dropped a would-be touchdown in the left corner in the end zone on third down. The Falcons dialed up a fade pass in which the intended target ran to the same exact corner on fourth down, this time the Townies applying better defense.
The second life the Townies gained was quickly nullified Stetson stepped in front to record an interception at 5:46 of the fourth quarter. Cranston West took over at the E.P.â€™s 41-yard-line, and while the Falcons did not score, they managed to knock over three minutes off the clock and leave the Townies with just one timeout to work with.
E.P. burned through its final timeout before even snapping the ball as the Townies didnâ€™t have enough bodies on the field. It was a bleak omen on a night in which E.P. struggled mightily in the turnover department.
CRANSTON WEST, 19-10
East Providence 0-0-10
Cranston West 7-6-0-0
CW â€“ Bryan Stetson 1 run (Stefano Martial kick)
CW â€“ Stetson 10 run (kick failed)
EP â€“ Dominic Leonardo 31-yard field goal
EP â€“ Jalin Braxton 75-yard run (Leonardo kick)
CW â€“ Nicholas DeMarco 28-yard interception return (kick failed)