PAWTUCKET – There was no quit in Freddy Gobewole.
On a night in which his heart was his biggest ally, Gobewole willed his way to a 16-yard score with 46.7 seconds remaining. That snapped a 7-7 game and gave Shea an eventual 14-7 triumph over semifinal-bound Tolman Wednesday night at student-dominated crowd at Max Read Field. The Raiders lead the holiday series by a 5-4 count.
Gobewole finished with 103 yards on the ground and two scores, stats that made him an easy choice for MVP honors for Shea. The senior cemented his selection by turning in a nifty run late in the fourth quarter, one that saw Gobewole go from being wrapped up in the backfield to finding that extra gear on his way to six hard-fought points.
“I got caught because the blitz came early. I tried to do a little reverse pivot and it just happened for me,’ said Gobewole, giving credit to the block quarterback Adilson DaSilva made in freeing him up. “I found the end zone and just rushed up into it.”
Anybody who has followed the Raiders this autumn knows that Gobewole has played through a tremendous amount of pain. He dislocated his shoulder in early October against Central, an injury so severe that doctors specifically told him that his season appeared over. Gobewole didn’t want to hear it. Instead he sat out two games before returning back earlier this month against Johnston in a game the Raiders desperately needed to win just to remain in the postseason discussion.
“First of all, Freddy shouldn’t have even been playing,” explained Shea head coach Dino Campopiano. “We talked about it and he’s a senior. The doctor said if (the shoulder) came out one more time, you’re done. He’s going to have surgery soon.
“A kid like that, he put his team on his back and played hurt,” Campopiano continued. “We didn’t use him on defense and he wanted to play defense. He did a great job and he’s a tough kid. I couldn’t be happier for him and the other seniors going out like this.”
Gobewole stated his MVP intentions early, going 51 yards untouched on Shea’s first play from scrimmage. He would often grimace as he made his way towards the sideline, but there was no way he was going to play a slight role in what was his final high school game.
“I’ve been struggling. If I wasn’t a senior, they would have told me to hang it up, have the surgery and wait for college,” said Gobewole. “I told them this is my last year and that I need to play.”
While Gobewole stole the show with his running heroics, the Raiders’ defensive unit did its part to holding the Tigers to 86 rushing yards on 40 carries. Tolman became so desperate to generate offense that it resorted to throwing the ball 11 times, an alarmingly high total considering there were weeks the Tigers didn’t even attempt a pass.
It was through the air that Tolman scored, as quarterback Joselito Knapp found an open Shayne Taylor for 49 yards in the second quarter. It was also through the air that Tolman’s chances of sending the game into overtime were denied. Knapp threw four straight incomplete passes after Shea scored, the final gasp coming with 17.4 seconds left as the Raiders’ Emilio Teixeira broke up a pass intended for Tigers senior Ousmane Samb.
“We knew they were going to bring the heat, we just couldn’t block it,” said Tolman head coach Dave Caito. “If we didn’t have to throw the ball, I wasn’t going to. We couldn’t run the ball. I give credit to (Shea’s defense). They came to play and our offense didn’t.”
Said Campopiano about his club’s defense, “We knew they weren’t going to throw the ball much, but we played aggressive. (Defensive coordinator Damon) Scarduzio had a great gameplan and the kids executed it well.”
The two sides combined to turn the ball over six times. That included a stretch late in the first half where three fumbles, two by Tolman, came within five snaps. Samb earned game MVP honors for the Tigers, recording an interception while catching two balls for 50 yards.
“I told the kids that we didn’t have a great year,” said Campopiano, whose Raiders became the first Division II club to best the Tigers. “I told them that they had nothing to lose and they did. It’s all for them.”
Now Tolman turns its attention to Tuesday and St. Raphael Academy.
“We’ve got to turn the page and pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and beat St. Ray’s,” said Caito. “That’s it.”
Tolman 0-7-0-0 –7
Shea 7-0-0-7 – 14
S – Freddy Gobewole 51 run (Jose Rodrigues kick)
T – Shayne Taylor 49 pass from Joselito Knapp (Kevin Poirier kick)
S – Gobewole 16 run (Rodrigues kick)
First downs 8 10
Rushes-yards 40-86 35-203
Passing 3-9-0 2-5-1
Sacks by 1-18 1-8
Net passing 91 43
Punts-avg. 5-37.8 2-30.0
Fumbles-lost 5-2 5-3
Pen.-yards 5-55 1-15
Rushing: T – Ousmane Samb 12-38, Joselito Knapp 17-37, Darion Stubbs 2-5, Mory Keita 2-3, Juan Wilson 4-(-7), Kevin Poirier 2-4, Andre Gilbert 1-6; Shea – Freddy Gobewole 11-103, Adilson DaSilva 7-12, Tim Monteiro 9-66, Travis Gray 2-7,
Jamal Tucker 5-9, Aaron Rodrigues 1-6.
Passing: T – Joselito Knapp 3-9-0-99; S – Adilson DaSilva 2-5-1-61.
Receiving: T – Ousmane Samb 2-50, Shayne Taylor 1-49; S – Devon Silva 1-32, Jamal Tucker 1-29.