BURRILLVILLE – As he stood before a jubilant group of Burrillville players, head coach Gennaro Ferraro raised his right index finger and emphatically pointed in the direction of the Alumni Field scoreboard.
All eyes remained dead set on Ferraro as he rattled off the words the Broncos have longed to hear: “It’s a win.”
For the first time this season, Burrillville earned a victory against a Division III rival. That it materialized against a Lincoln squad that also entered Saturday still looking to obtain league win No. 1 was not lost on a clearly-relieved Ferraro, not on a day when his Broncos held on for dear life in a 7-6 Homecoming victory.
“Finally, we were able to overcome the little things and little mistakes and punch it through,” stated Ferrarro, the outpouring of relief clearly evident in his tone. “These kids have worked hard for so long, so congratulations to them. We broke through with a league win, so congratulations to them.”
The down-to-the-wire finish was not devoid of controversy. With 3:31 remaining in the contest and the Lions driving, quarterback Spencer Desautel was stopped short on a fourth-and-two call at the Broncos’ 22-yard line. The ball was placed roughly a yard shy of the marker, though Lincoln head coach Dave Waycott believed in calling for a measurement. His overture was denied, much to the chagrin to the entire Lions’ bench.
The dying seconds produced even more frustration for Lincoln. After Burrillville’s Jonathan Thornhill was spun backwards for a two-yard loss on third-and-long from its 21, the game clock read just over 30 seconds. In high school, teams adhere to a 25-second play clock, meaning there was a slim chance that the Lions could take over with mere seconds to spare.
On fourth down, Burrillville quarterback Isaiah DeSilva dropped to one knee with about five seconds remaining. Instead of immediately blowing the play dead, time continued to melt away, a development that denied one final chance for Lincoln.
Once both sides went through the traditional postgame handshakes, Waycott spoke to his players while his assistant coaches huddled around the officiating crew, seeking to get an adequate explanation why the clock didn’t stop the moment DeSilva’s knee touched the ground.
The loss drops Lincoln to 0-6 in Division III, 0-7 overall. On the flip side, Burrillville stands at 1-4 in the league, 2-5 overall.
“It was a classic Lincoln-Burrillville game; not one kid on either side quit,” Ferraro said.
Expounding on Ferraro’s point, Saturday’s get-together featured two wet-behind-the-ears squads that basically asked their defenses to serve as the primary catalyst. Burrillville took the opening kickoff and advanced all the way to the Lincoln 1 before senior Matt Johns, who was lined up in a Wildcat formation, attempted to find DeSilva and his 6-foot-5 frame in the back corner of the end zone.
Lincoln had other ideas as Chris Kimball came away with the interception. The senior had been picked on for a 25-yard pass play earlier in the drive, though when push came to shove, he was able to win the 1-on-1 battle against DeSilva.
The disheartening ending for Burrillville had a here-we-go-again vibe surrounding it, as the Broncos saw their first possession of last week’s game against Tiverton fizzle out at the 1 when DeSilva was stuffed on fourth-and-goal. This time, though, Burrillville did not let the setback linger to the point that it would affect them the rest of the contest. A nifty three-yard cutback run by Johns put the home team in front, 7-0, at 6:20 of the second quarter.
“As was addressed in practice, we’ve got to come back whenever there’s adversity,” noted Ferraro. “The kids never believed that (Kimball’s pick) was going to hurt us. Maybe last week, they might have, but with a week of maturity, I think they believed that it wasn’t going to prevent them.”
Lincoln pieced together a nine-play, 61-yard scoring drive in the third quarter, one that relied exclusively on runs and ate 6:15 of game clock. Michael Morra took care of the final 13 yards with a nice cutback that enabled him to head into the end zone standing upright.
“He’s a quick kid who read the play the way it was designed,” said Waycott.
With his kicking game in a bit of bind due to the absence of holder Johnny Galang, Waycott felt compelled to go for two. The Broncos came away with the stop that in the end enabled Johns’ extra point to be the deciding factor.
“I would have loved to have kicked it, but we don’t have that option right now,” Waycott noted.
After Morra’s score, it became a matter of Burrillville stemming the tide against a Lincoln squad that desperately sought to punch the ball in for the go-ahead score. Turns out the former came to fruition on a day that saw the Broncos finally break through.