CUMBERLAND --- For the past four years, Cumberland and Shea have thrown their records out the window and hooked up in some thrilling battles that were decided by a handful of points.
For three-plus quarters of their Division II-B game on Friday night, the undefeated Clippers and the struggling Raiders were locked in another close contest, but the Clippers, thanks to a pair of touchdowns in the final 8:46 of play, were able to create some distance between themselves and their visitors and come away with a 28-9 victory.
The win raised the Clippers’ record to 6-0 and clinched sole possession of the division title. The Clippers will try to sew up their first unblemished division schedule since 2003 next Saturday at 2 p.m. when they visit West Warwick.
And when they take on the Wizards, who are currently fighting for a playoff berth, they will do their best to get off to a better start than they did against the Raiders, who fell to 2-4 in division play with their third straight loss.
In the opening half, the hosts managed to total exactly 100 yards of offense to the Raiders’ 195, yet found themselves down by a 9-7 score at the half. Their only play of more than 10 yards got them on the board, as Erik Travers broke loose for a 35-yard touchdown run 5:23 into the game.
But the second half was a different story for both teams. The Clippers amassed 265 yards to the Raiders’ 40 and took the lead for good with 2:19 to play on a 6-yard touchdown run by Travers that capped a 13-play, 65-yard drive that took 7:19 off the clock.
Speaking of Travers, the senior tailback enjoyed one of his best performances of his high school career. He ran for 185 yards on 18 carries (124 coming in the second half) and scored his third TD of the night on a marvelous 50-yard run with 4:01 to play in the contest to make it a three-possession game.
Quarterback Brendan Guerin also hit 6 of his 14 passes for an even 100 yards, but like Travers, he was at his best in the second half, completing five of his seven attempts for 90 yards.
The Raiders grabbed a 3-0 lead on their first possession of the game on a 32-yard field goal by Baboucarr Lemon, and after the Clippers went ahead on Travers’ first TD and the extra point by Tyler Calabro, Shea took a 9-7 lead on a well-placed 36-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Aaron Rodriques to Ecksandro Nunes in the right corner of the end zone.
The score remained a two-point affair until Travers’ second touchdown and Guerin’s two-point conversion pass to Trent Vasey gave the Clippers back the lead.
The Clippers then upped their lead to 21-9 with 8:46 left in the game on a strong 8-yard TD run up the middle by Joe Fine, and then put the game away on Travers’ third trip to the end zone.
The Raiders’ top player offensively was Rodriques, who did more damage with his legs (a dozen carries for 82 yards) than he did with his arm (5-of-13 for 77 yards).
The game was also marred by penalties, which saw both teams combined for 21 of them for 201 yards. Shea received 11 yellow flags, and Cumberland had 101 of the yards.