Sports editor emeritus
CENTRAL FALLS — Defense ruled the night as Hope High held on for a 14-6 victory over Central Falls on Friday evening at the Higginson Avenue gridiron.
The visitors led 8-0 at halftime, only to see Central Falls climb to within two points when Carlos Hernandez picked up a botched snap from center by Hope on an attempted punt and returned the ball 45 yards for a touchdown.
It was the only time Central Falls would score all night.
“Our offense did not click tonight,” Warriors coach Jeff Lapierre said after the game ended. “We couldn’t complete passes, we threw interceptions and fumbled the ball. It just wasn’t our night.”
Hope put the game away when quarterback Wil Rodriguez hit Theo Wise with a short pass that the hard-running halfback took 45 yards through C.F.’s defense for the insurance tally with 4:40 left in the contest. Wise had also scored Hope’s first TD on an eight-yard run with 7:15 left in the first half.
The game was all about blocking and tackling near the line of scrimmage. The Warriors’ first possession of the game ended in an interception by Hope’s Devonte Youn at the home team’s 31-yard line. But Hope’s offense couldn’t move the ball on three downs. C.F.’s Julian Soares deflected a pass on third down and cornerback Marcelino DaVeiga picked off Rodriguez on fourth down at the 17-yard line.
The Warriors then turned the ball over on first down with a fumble, setting the tone for a sloppy night of offensive football. They also fumbled a punt early in the second quarter that turned into the first points of the game. Hope’s Bryan Zapata scooped up the ball at the Warriors’ 32. An apparent touchdown run by Rodriguez on first down was called back due to a penalty but the persistent QB got 18 yards back with a pass completion to Wise that put the ball at the 18-yard line.
On third down, halfback Marques Young went for the first down at the 10. Hope then got an 8-yardTD run on second down from Wise to take an early lead. Rodriguez ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 advantage.
Central Falls fumbled away the football at Hope’s 35-yard line with 62 seconds left in the half after quarterback Malik Velazquez completed two passes. The Warriors’ Soares then intercepted a Hope pass with 26 seconds left in the half. Velazquez ran for 15 yards to Hope’s 8 before time ran out in the half. That was the deepest penetration of the game for C.F.’s offense.
Central Falls forced Hope to punt early in the third quarter. The snap went over the head of punter Terrance Almeida. C.F.’s Carlos Hernandez won a footrace to the ball and ran into the end zone untouched to put the Warriors back into the game at 8-6 with 7:44 left in the quarter. A two-point conversion run went nowhere as C.F. failed to tie the game.
The Warriors’ defense forced a punt following a third-down sack shared by Alex Gonzalez and Hernandez. C.F.’s offense turned the ball over on downs before its defense forced another punt. Taking over at their own 40, the Warriors made one first down before a penalty and fumbled snap from center stalled the drive.
Hope took over on its own 27 with 7:05 left in the game. Halfback Jaekwon Sennon broke off a 33-yard run to midfield before Rodriquez found Wise on third-and-18 for a short pass that turned into a 45-yard touchdown completion.
A minor skirmish between the two teams with 1:26 left in the game forced a 10-minute delay while officials consulted at midfield and the two teams huddled on their respective sidelines.
Central Falls fell to 1-3 in Division IV with the loss. Hope improved to 2-3.