By TERRY NAU
Sports editor emeritus
PAWTUCKET – Earning and maintaining good field position proved crucial for Shea High on Friday night during a 19-0 victory over Central High in a Division II-B matchup at Max Read Field before approximately 200 fans.
The Raiders, now 2-0 in league play and 3-0 overall, scored two first-half touchdowns with drives that began on Central’s side of the field. The visiting Dragons never crossed midfield in the first half, pinned down in their own territory by an aggressive Shea defense that forced punts on all five Central possessions in the first half. When Central decided to fake a punt and run for a first down, Shea’s Momodou Mbye raced up from his punt returner’s spot to blow up the play.
Shea also got the biggest play of the game, a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown by freshman Yanique Duarte early in the fourth quarter to ice the game. Central finally crossed midfield in the final minute of the game. Shea’s defense, a speedy and disciplined unit, stood firm and protected its unscored upon status by stopping backup Central QB Steve Alvarez at the six-yard line as time ran out.
The Raiders’ defense remains unscored upon in three games this season, including consecutive shutouts these past two weeks over Pilgrim and Central by a combined 47-0 margin. Shea should have a better idea how good this defense really is when the Raiders visit West Warwick next Saturday afternoon.
Shea’s defense is a swarming unit that blends strong teamwork and speed to frustrate opponents. Some of the key players Friday night included linebackers Ryan Mathias, Diaceyea Dorbor and Livingston McCarty along with DB Mbye and defensive end Jarred Mainville. Central’s offense never had a chance against this crew of gang-tackling hitters.
The two teams spent the first quarter feeling each other out. Central seemed determined to pass the ball downfield, perhaps hoping to get rich quick, while Shea stuck to its running game, using good field position to take an early advantage on the scoreboard.
Shea’s defense forced a quick punt on Central’s first possession of the game. The elusive Duarte returned a punt 24 yards from midfield to Central’s 25-yard line but the Dragons defense yielded nothing and Shea turned the ball over on downs.
After another Central punt, the Raiders launched a 12-play drive that reached Central’s eight-yard line before two costly penalties, a 15-yard sack of Shea QB Ty’shon Ashe and an intercepted screen pass by Dragons’ defensive lineman Gelson Silva ended the drive late in the first quarter.
Central went three-and-out, passing the ball ineffectively on each down, before a 13-yard punt gave Shea the ball at the Dragons’ 47 early in the second quarter. Mbye, a running back on offense, gained seven yards on first down. Ashe then circled right end and covered the remaining 40 yards to the end zone for a 6-0 lead with 10:11 left in the first half.
On Central’s next punting opportunity, the Dragons lined up with a fake in mind. Mbye sensed the fake from 20 yards downfield, crashed through a hole in the line and stuffed the ball-carrier short of the first down.
Shea took over on the Central 16 and went backwards as Ashe was sacked on fourth down for a 15-yard loss.
Once again, Shea’s defense held firm, forcing a punt that gave Shea the ball at Central’s 48. This time, the Raiders took advantage, needing seven plays to score. Ashe hit Duarte for a 10-yard gain to get things going. Ashe gained 16 yards on three carries, bringing the ball to the five-yard line. Mbye burst through a hole for the touchdown with 37 seconds left in the first half.
A pass for the two-point conversion went awry and the Raiders took a 12-0 lead into intermission.
Central fell to 0-2 in Division II-B with the loss.
Central 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 -- 0
Shea 0 – 12 – 0 – 7 -- 19
SHEA – Ty’shon Ashe 40 run (kick failed)
SHEA – Momodou Mbye 5 run (pass failed)
SHEA – Yanique Duarte 55 punt return (Leonardo DeBrito kick)