PAWTUCKET -- In an evenly-matched game that stood tied at 13 late in the third quarter, St. Raphael Academy’s speedy James Kelly made the decisive play of the night, an 80-yard touchdown run through the middle of Shea’s defense that sparked the Saints to a crucial 21-13 triumph over the Raiders.
Shea had just tied the game at 13 on a five-yard run by quarterback Ty’shon Ashe that capped an impressive seven-play drive covering 80 yards. The Raiders seemed ready to take charge of a game that St. Raphael had controlled in the first quarter with two long touchdown marches. It only took one play to burst their bubble as Kelly took an inside handoff and burst into the secondary, easily outdistancing Shea’s last line of defense.
“James is finally learning that he doesn’t have to bounce everything outside,” Saints coach Mike Sassi said after the game. “He stayed inside the tackles and found a big opening. James is the fastest guy on our team and he showed it on that play.”
The Saints then ran for the two-point conversion for the final scoring of the game. After that, the defenses took over. SRA’s Alfred Dorbor picked off Ashe on Shea’s first play following the kickoff before the game turned into a punting contest between Shea’s Bryan Mosquera and SRA’s John Michalczyk, who kept things interesting with two short punts in the fourth quarter.
Shea had excellent field position in the final quarter, taking over at midfield with nine minutes left, only to go three-and-out. After the Saints did likewise, Shea got the ball at its own 37, losing 15 yards on a personal foul penalty on the punt return. Ashe, who had opened the game with a 79-yard pass completion to Leonardo DeBrito, then threw three incompletions before Mosquera launched a 42-yard punt, pinning the Saints at their own 21 with 4:25 left in the game.
Shea’s defense, which allowed two touchdowns on SRA’s first two possessions of the game before buckling down, forced another Saints punt. The Raiders got the ball back with 3:03 left at SRA’s 29-yard line following a 13-yard punt, only to fumble it away on first down. SRA’s Darius Stewart came up with the football and the Saints ran out the clock.
The game began with a long march to the end zone by the Saints, who went 65 yards in 11 plays – all runs – to take a 7-0 lead. SRA’s offensive line controlled Shea’s front seven, creating holes for running backs Dorbor and Josh Alves, who covered the final yard to cap a textbook drive.
Shea responded in stunning fashion. Taking over at their own 20, Ashe dropped back and found DeBrito wide open down the right sideline. The Saints ran DeBrito down at the one-yard line, a 79-yard gain. After a three-yard loss on first down, halfback Melvin Washington went in from four yards out. DeBrito’s kick tied the game at 7-7. The Raiders needed just three plays and 65 seconds to cover 80 yards.
The Saints went right back to their ground game, marching 80 yards on just six plays, the big one a 53-yard run down the left sideline by Kelly that put the ball on Shea’s 12. Dorbor then ran it in from the four-yard line three plays later to give the Saints a 13-7 lead. It would have been more but Washington blocked the extra point kick.
The rest of the first half turned into a defensive stalemate. All four drives in the second quarter ended with punts.
“Shea’s defense made some good adjustments,” Sassi admitted. “We had a hard time moving the ball against them. It was just a hard-fought game between two good teams, the type of game we expected from Shea.”
Both teams have big games next weekend. Shea, now 2-3 in Division II-B, will host Cumberland (4-1) on Friday night while the Saints, 3-2, will entertain North Kingstown next Saturday in a 2 p.m. game at Pariseau Field.
St. Raphael 13 -0-8 – 0 -- 21
Shea 7 – 0 – 6 – 0 -- 13
SRA – Josh Alves 1 run (Jacob Davis kick)
SHEA – Melvin Washington 4 run (Leonardo DeBrito kick)
SRA – Alfred Dorbor 4 run (kick blocked)
SHEA – Ty’shon Ashe 5 run (kick failed)
SRA – James Kelly 80 run (Dorbor run)