PROVIDENCE – St. Raphael Academy had trouble protecting leads and finishing games in its two league losses this season.
On Friday night at City Stadium, the Saints corrected those problems, grabbing a 6-0 lead in the first quarter and rolling to a 33-0 victory over Central that evened SRA’s Division II-B record at 2-2.
“We finally stepped on somebody’s neck once we got a lead,” Saints coach Mike Sassi said after shaking heads with Central High head coach Peter Rios following the game. “We had leads in all four of our games this season and lost two of them. Tonight, we finally played (hard) for all 48 minutes.”
The Saints took control with a long scoring drive to open the second half and then added two more touchdowns on “pick-six” interception returns by Alfred Dorbor and Benjamin Roy before Dorbor closed out the scoring with a 29-yard run late in the game.
“I think this team has the potential to be better than last year’s squad,” Sassi said. “We’re young in a lot of places but I think we showed some maturity tonight after we turned the ball over and got it back on the next play.”
Sassi was referring to defensive back John Michalczyk’s interception on the first play following a Central fumble in the second quarter. The Knights would turn the ball over five times as the energetic Saints defense bottled up their ground game and turned opportunistic when Central QB Leonard Brown put the ball in the air.
Leading 6-0, the Saints went 67 yards on 11 plays to open the third quarter. Dorbor broke off consecutive runs of 13 and 14 yards to sustain the drive. On the second of those two runs, the senior halfback swept right and ran into several Central defenders. Reversing his field, he cut back to the left sideline, gaining 14 on what could have been a five-yard loss.
Fullback Josh Alves finished the drive with a one-yard run and a 12-0 Saints lead. It was Alves’ second one-yard TD plunge of the game.
On Central’s next possession, Brown went back to pass on third down from his own 36 and tossed the ball over the middle, right into the hands of Dorbor, who caught it at his own 37, raced to the right sideline, then cut back to the middle of the field and into the end zone, leaving half of Central’s defense in his wake.
Roy added his own pick-six covering 40 yards on the final play of the third quarter for a 26-0 lead. The Saints then went the traditional route, driving 85 yards and eating up six minutes of clock time in a drive that featured Dorbor’s backup, speedy junior James Kelly, who broke off a 25-yard run to show his own potential. Dorbor finished the drive with a 29-yard TD run.
Central had the only two sustained drives of the first half but the Saints netted the only touchdown, thanks to a Knights fumble deep inside their own territory.
The game began with Central QB Leonard Brown connecting on a 38-yard pass down the right sideline to Jonathan Amado that moved the ball to SRA’s 22-yard line. The Saints’ defense then stiffened at the 14-yard line, thanks in large part to a dropped pass on third down to an open receiver at the 10.
The Saints countered with one first down before punting. Emmanuel Leake’s punting would prove to be a big factor in the first half as the junior QB kicked his team out of trouble. Central had trouble fielding his well-placed boots, which eventually flipped the field position in SRA’s favor.
After Leake’s second punt of the first quarter sent Central back to its 13-yard line, the Dragons fumbled on first down when a low pitchout went awry. The Saints recovered at Central’s nine and scored on two plays. Dorbor went eight yards off tackle to the one and Alves took it across the goal line on second down.
A conversion running play went nowhere and the Saints led 6-0 with 48 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Saints fumbled a punt at midfield after Central’s next possession but got the ball back on the next play when Michalczyk picked off a Brown pass. SRA, which gained only 103 yards in offense during the first half, then punted and Central went on another long drive, stalling at the 12-yard line as SRA’s defense again came up big in the red zone.
St. Raphael 6-0-20-7 -- 33
Central 0-0-0-0 -- 0
SRA – Josh Alves 1 run (run failed)
SRA – Josh Alves 1 run (run failed)
SRA – Alfred Dorbor 63 pass interception return (James Kelly pass from Emmanuel Leake)
SRA – Benjamin Roy 40 pass interception return (pass failed)
SRA – Alfred Dorbor 29 run (Kelly kick)