WESTERLY – St. Raphael Academy got off to a 15-0 lead on Friday night before Westerly rallied for a 36-22 victory in the Division II quarterfinals.
The Saints took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. After both teams punted twice to open the game, the Saints won the field position battle, setting up shop on Westerly’s 28-yard line. Diaz’s first punt had pinned Westerly back on its 17-yard line. His second punt was down on the Bulldogs’ six-yard line. Westerly then punted and could only get the ball out to the 28-yard line.
Patrick Miranda gained nine yards to start the drive and Diaz hit Vincent Baccari with a seven-yard pass and a first down at the 11. Diaz ran for 10 yards on second down. On first and goal, Miranda took it in for a 6-0 lead. Diaz added the extra point.
Westerly then fumbled on its next possession with James Berry recovering at the Bulldogs’ 38. On third-and-24, Diaz found wide receiver Zach Mays with a pass-and-run connection that covered 76 yards and ended in the end zone.
Diaz then was roughed while kicking the extra point. The Saints accepted the penalty and decided to go for the two-point conversion. Berry ran it in for a 15-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Westerly changed the momentum of the game when the Saints punted with five minutes left in the half. Spencer Read returned the punt to midfield. On a key 4th-and-6 play, the Saints were called for pass interference at the 16-yard line. Read scored four plays later and Brandon Van Horn added the extra point.
Trailing 15-7 in the third quarter, the Bulldogs got the ball at midfield again and began a solid drive, using the strong running of Anthony Euwing and Read to get close to the goal line. Euwing covered the final two yards. QB Alex Brown hit halfback Wesley Gomez on the two-point conversion pass and suddenly the game was tied at 15-15.
Three possession later, Westerly won another field position battle as Van Horn’s punt was down on the Saints’ five-yard line. SRA couldn’t go far and Diaz punted out to the 28. Halfback Adam Mitchell covered the final 18 yards for a 22-15 Westerly lead late in the third quarter.
The Saints then got back in it in stunning fashion. Westerly was driving for another score before a personal foul stalled their drive at the Saints’ 22. Diaz and Mays hooked up on another pass-and-run that covered 70 yards, tying the game at 22 with six minutes left.
Westerly responded with a clutch drive. Read caught a screen pass on third-and-long and went 39 yards. Max Bumarch broke off a 34-yard touchdown run to make it 29-22.
Westerly tacked on a final touchdown late in the game on a three-yard run by Read.
SRA played without halfback Charles Correa, who reportedly was ineligible for the game due to a classroom issue.