PROVIDENCE – The good vibrations that have surrounded Dave Waycott and his Lincoln High squad the past few weeks came to a screeching halt Saturday afternoon.
Moses Brown’s campus was a house of horrors for the Lions, who were roughed up to the tune of 46-7 by the Quakers in the Division III opener for both teams.
Sure, the victors were good, as the three touchdown passes tossed by quarterback Eric Cosmopulos will attest. But the Lions themselves struggled in every facet of the game: interceptions that were returned for touchdowns, missed assignments on special teams, and an inability to stop their opponent on third down,
“It’s a monstrous step back from where I thought we were,” sighed Waycott. “It just wasn’t us today. When you see us at practice, we get so excited for the games. Then it seems we’re afraid to make a mistake – it’s almost like a game anxiety.”
Waycott declared that he didn’t believe the Quakers were five touchdowns better than his Lions. On this day, however, the signs of progress that helped soften the blow of preseason losses to Cumberland and Shea proved elusive.
The home team wasted little time, and started early making it a long day on the gridiron for Waycott & Co. A three-and-out by Lincoln on the game’s opening drive gave way to a blocked punt for Moses Brown. Setting up shop at the Lincoln 20-yard-line, the Quakers needed just four plays before setting up a screen that enabled Cosmopulos to find Andrew Howard, who basically walked in from nine yards out.
What helped set up the Cosmopulos-to-Howard connection was Moses Brown’s ability to pick up seven yards on a third-and-six from Lincoln’s 16 yard-line. The Quakers’ second drive saw Cosmopulos complete a 15-yard aerial on a third-and-10 sequence. Lincoln ran into the same conundrum several more times before the final horn sounded.
For the Lions, the concluding buzzer could not come soon enough. Down 20-0 late in the first quarter and desperate to get out of the shadow of its own goal line, Lincoln tried to take a page out of Moses Brown’s playbook with a screen play that would hopefully enable net the Lions their initial first down for the day.
Instead, the Quakers snuffed out the screen. Danny Escobar, one of two quarterbacks employed by the Lions, completed the pass to Cory Gaskell in the flat before quickly running out of real estate. Forced to retreat backwards, Gaskell was brought down in his own end zone by Sebastian Ferrell, the Moses Brown senior who returned two Escobar interceptions for touchdowns and also recorded a receiving score.
By the time Lincoln finally managed a first down, Moses Brown was well on its way to moving to moving to 1-0 in Division III action. Escobar was able to hit sophomore Jermain Perez over the middle for a 39-yard completion that yielded a major sigh of relief on the Lions’ sideline.
Lincoln was able to capitalize on the momentum as sophomore wideout Thaddeus Moss demonstrated why he figures to be an important cog moving forward. With two Moses Brown defenders in his vicinity, Moss corralled a low throw from Escobar before turning up field to complete what proved a 30-yard scoring connection.
Moss would go on to produce several more highlights on both sides of the ball. On the Moses Brown’s first offensive snap of the second half, Moss quickly engulfed tailback William Wooten for a four-yard loss. Shortly after, Moss tripped up another ball carrier when he raced from the left edge – his position on the line of scrimmage for this particular play – to the middle.
Both third-quarter defensive stops served as bookends for the nimble grab Moss achieved on Lincoln’s first drive following halftime. Extending his hands out at the last possible second, Moss popped for 38 yards as the Lions moved from midfield to deep into Moses Brown territory.
The drive ended up quickly fizzling as Moses Brown barreled through for a first-down sack that added seven more yards to Lincoln’s pursuit. A seven-yard run on second down brought the Lions’ offense to the Quakers’ 11 before back-to-back incomplete throws resulted in a turnover on downs.
“We had so many missed opportunities out there,” Waycott noted.
The 38-yard catch by Moss was made possible by second-string quarterback Tyler Bostic, who ran the offense in the third quarter before turning things back over to Escobar in the fourth quarter. When Escobar did return, he resembled more of a runner than a classic drop back passer, a description that fits Bostic.
“Both of them bring something different to the table,” said Waycott.
If there’s good news for Lincoln, it’s that the team won’t hit the road until Oct. 26. The first of four straight home games will take place this Friday night when Ponaganset invades Ferguson Field.
“Oh yeah,” said Waycott when asked about the coming days serving as a chance to learn about the character of his football crew.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03