EAST PROVIDENCE — The 85th meeting of Thanksgiving Day football rivals East Providence High School and LaSalle Academy followed a recent trend, the Rams winning for the seventh year in a row this time by a score of 30-6 Thursday morning, Nov. 28, at a wind swept and chilly Pierce Memorial Stadium.
LaSalle, which hasn’t dropped a holiday classic since 2006, improved its Division I record to 4-4 and kept its playoff hopes alive. The Rams also upped their overall lead in the longest-running Thanksgiving Day meeting of Rhode Island schools to 48-35-2. For the Townies, their season came to an end with a 2-6 league record.
Things started poorly for East Providence Thursday and continued further south from then on out. The Townies first two plays from scrimmage on the opening drive of the game went for negative yards. Their third was a fumble, which LaSalle recovered at the E.P. 18.
The Rams nearly gave it right back when “Wildcat” quarterback Louis Varrichione mishandled the shot-gun snap. He managed, however, to corral the ball with his knee touching the ground to end the play. Two snaps later, another of the LaSalle option QBs, Keon Wilson, lofted a pass into the teeth of the wind blowing off Narragansett Bay. The ball hung up for a while before end Seth Burdett won the jump ball for the 18-yard touchdown catch.
The Rams would fail on the conversation though they jumped on top for what proved for keeps, 6-0, less than three minutes into the contest.
Following an East Providence punt midway through the period deep into LaSalle territory, Samuel Okunfolami next stepped to the fore for the Rams, the junior running back breaking loose on a 72-yard excursion to the E.P. nine. Three plays later, East Providence resident and LaSalle starting quarterback Jace Pena connected with Wilson in the back corner of the end zone for a three-year TD pass. An attempt at two failed leaving LaSalle’s lead at 12-0.
The Rams would eventually build an 18-0 margin by intermission. After the teams traded fumbles, LaSalle forced another East Providence punt. Varrichione would finish off the short-field drive, bulling his way to the goal line for a 13-yard touchdown.
The Townies’ lone score came after the break on a play-action pass from quarterback John Costa to back Trystan Casey.
The Rams’ seventh win in a row is now second-best all time in the series. During three other eras, both sides have won as many as eight consecutive games. LaSalle has done it twice, from 1941-48 and from 1985-92. The Townies won eight in as many years from 1960-67.
The 2013 version of the E.P.-LaSalle game was part of the “Great American Rivalry Series” sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps. As part of the festivities, East Providence senior A.J. Andrade and LaSalle Doug Harrison were each awarded a scholarship as the representatives of the Townies and the Rams with the highest academic grade point averages.
Andrade is a four-year football letterman who has also lettered in indoor track (winter) and volleyball (spring) three times. He is also a member of the National Honor Society and is on the EPHS Senior Class Committee. He plans to pursue a degree in the medical field when he attends the University of Miami next fall.
In addition, two noted football alumni from each school were recognized. East Providence head coach Sandy Gorham, most recently inducted into the school’s hall of fame, and Steve Lepore, a former LaSalle captain and successful chiropractor, were honored prior to the contest.