CENTRAL FALLS --- Mount Pleasant extended its Division IV win streak to 12 games on Friday night, but Central Falls made it awfully tough for the defending champions to pick up their latest victory.
The Kilties overcame a whopping 18 penalties for 129 yards and huge games offensively from Warrior running back Josh Brandon and quarterback Brandon Canuto to pull out of Macomber Stadium with a 14-12 victory in this battle of early-season unbeatens.
Brandon, who topped the 100-yard mark in rushing (111) for the first time in his career in the Warriors’ 21-0 win over Hope last Friday, picked up 157 yards on 25 carries against the Kilties (2-0), while Canuto rode a strong second half to end up completing half of his 24 passes for 147 yards.
But while the Warriors (2-1) were able to top over 300 yards of offense, they were unable to produce much of it inside the M.P. 20, where they went 2-for-6.
“We just didn’t execute when we got down in there,” noted C.F. head coach Mo Jackson. “It was disappointing. We had our chances and we just didn’t punch it in.”
To make the loss extra agonizing, the Warriors missed a pair of field goal attempts, a 23-yarder late in the first quarter and a 22-yarder with 5:55 to play, the latter just sailing left of the upright by a foot, and C.F. tried to run in a pair of two-point conversions, but both attempts came up short of the goal line by inches.
The Warriors also went into the game minus the services of one of their heroes from last week’s victory, offensive guard and defensive lineman Nico Danielson, and his presence was missed on both sides of the ball.
“We missed Nico,” remarked Jackson, who also lost wide receiver Christian Brandon to an ankle injury early in the third quarter and saw a few other starters miss some time with injuries. “You wouldn’t think one guy would make much of a difference, but he does.”
The Warriors, who kicked off their season with back-to-back shutouts, lost their shot at a third straight with 7:23 to play in the second quarter on – of all things – a safety.
With the Warriors pinned on their own 3-yard line, thanks to a 59-yard punt by Jayquan Monteiro that took a handful of bounces down the field, they tried to get some positive yardage on a handoff to Brandon. But he got tackled by a swarm of white jerseys in the end zone for the two points.
Nineteen seconds later, the Kilties made it an 8-0 game when Monteiro broke free for a 32-yard touchdown run. But four minutes later, the Warriors got on the board with a 2-yard dive up the middle by Canuto that capped an 8-play, 65-yard drive that was helped by a 15-yard pass interference penalty by the Kilties.
But the Kilties responded with another touchdown with exactly a minute to play on a 25-yard run by Joel Royster that came on a lateral by Troy Forrest.
Royster, who was in at quarterback, threw a 5-yard pass to Forrest at the 25, when he was instantly tackled by a C.F. defensive back. But Forrest, who landed on that player, never touched the ground, saw Royster racing his way, and pitched the ball to him, and Royster took off toward the right pilon and into the end zone.
Two plays earlier, the Kilties got the ball on the 25 when Joseph Putu was unable to snare a high 28-yard pass from Royster, but when the ball bounced off a Warrior safety, he was able to pull in it for the catch on the ground.
“That’s part of football,” said Jackson. “Those things happen. Sometimes you get breaks here or there and you take advantage of them. We had a couple of breaks last week, but we still haven’t had our fair share of breaks yet.”
The Warriors did their best to get back into the game in the second half and trimmed their deficit to two on a nine-yard touchdown run by Kenuel Lopez. Canuto then tried to run in the two-point conversion, but he was tackled at the 2-yard line. He tried to reach the ball over the goal line before he hit the ground, but the nose of the ball came up inches shy.
The Warriors’ homestand continues next Friday night, when they host winless Scituate in a 6 p.m. division game.
Mount Pleasant 0 14 0 0--14
Central Falls 0 6 6 0--12
MP – Safety, Joshua Brandon tackled in end zone
MP – Jayquan Monteiro 32 run (run failed)
CF – Brandon Canuto 2 run (run failed)
MP – Joel Royster 25 run (kick failed)
CF – Kenuel Lopez 9 run (run failed)