PROVIDENCE — During the league season last month, Lincoln High had its way with Moses Brown and handed its Division III foe its first loss of the fall.
Let’s just say the Quakers took that defeat personal.
In the more-important rematch between the two squads — a semifinal tilt on Tuesday night — Moses Brown returned the favor with a convincing 21-0 blanking of the Lions at Brown University’s Berylson Field.
“Our guys were upset at the performance from last time,” said Moses Brown coach and North Smithfield resident LaJhon Jones, about his squad’s 20-14 loss to the Lions on Oct. 15. “We came into this game a little different. They had a little chip on their shoulders. They embarrassed us last time.”
The story of the game was the dominating defensive performance by the Quakers, particularly in the second half. With a slim 6-0 lead at halftime, the Quakers held the Lions to just six of its 39 yards on the ground.
Lincoln’s star quarterback Ryan O’Dell, who shredded Moses Brown for nearly 300 offensive yards in last month’s league encounter, was a big target by the Quakers. O’Dell finished with 128 yards passing on nine of 26 completions. But he also finished with three interceptions, the first setting up the Quakers initial score.
“He torched us last time,” Jones said. “He’s the only quarterback in the last few years that has done that to us. We took it personal. We took it freakin’ personal. We knocked him around a little bit, gave him some different looks and he didn’t do as well as he did last time against us.”
Lincoln went into the game on somewhat of a roll. The Lions were on the verge of missing a date in the postseason, but secured their spot by winning their final two league games, including a playoff-clinching 29-16 verdict over Middletown on Nov. 5 to finalize their record at 5-3.
“I told them to be proud of themselves,” said LHS coach Dave Waycott, a few minutes after the setback. “They made it to where a Lincoln team hasn’t been in a long time. It’s tough. The seniors I have known for a long time. It would have been nice (to win). I thought it was going to be more competitive.”
For the first half, the game did turn out to be competitive. Lincoln held the Quakers to just 75 total yards. Moses Brown managed just two big plays. Quarterback Andrew Romaro accumulated almost half his team’s yards with a 36-yard aerial to Maxwell Audette in the first quarter to get the ball to the Lions’ 29. Lincoln was able to sustain that drive.
But the next key play of the half ended up being the eventual game-winner when Audette picked off an O’Dell pass at the 20 at the start of the second quarter. On a quick, five-play drive, Audette then gave his teammates their 6-0 advantage with a one-yard plunge.
With the ball near midfield with 8:10 remaining in the half, Lincoln manufactured a strong 12-play drive that came up short at the 9. O’Dell had three of his competitions during the five-plus minute drive, including a pair to Kyle Jackson (six catches, 87 yards).
Moses Brown gave itself a comfortable cushion early in the second half when Romaro broke free for a 63-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. After the Quakers stopped an aggressive Lion drive at the 40, Moses Brown needed just two plays to find the end zone. With the ball at the 23, Audette ran for a 14-yard gain. Romaro then responded with his back-breaker, escaping the grasp of the Lion defenders and racing through the middle of the turf for the score.
“He’s known more as a passer but we have been trying to tell him he needs to run more,” Jones said. “He’s actually a pretty decent runner as he showed tonight.”
With a one-yard run, B. Michael Benduce capped off a nine play, 52-yard drive at the start of the fourth quarter for the Quakers’ final score. Lincoln finished the game with 10 penalties for 65 yards. A half a dozen yellow flags came in the second half.
“Turnovers and penalties,” Waycott said, “that’s the big thing right there.”
Moses Brown will make its six appearances in the Super Bowl since 2001 when it takes on Middletown. That championship game will be played on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Cranston Stadium.