EAST PROVIDENCE — Visiting Mt. Pleasant tuned up East Providence High School in the Townies’ final tune-up before their Division I regular season schedule begins in earnest, the Kilties handing the locals a 40-20 defeat Friday evening, Sept. 20, at Pierce Memorial Stadium.
Guei and Randolph Zleh, Mt. Pleasant’s All-State siblings, proved far too much for East Providence to handle in the non-league contest. The brothers scored three times in the first half as the Kilties took a commanding 21-0 lead by halftime.
The Townies’ three scores came after the break, two touchdown throws by quarterback Trystan Casey to end RaeQuan Kelly and a run by fullback Austin Baptista.
For Mt. Pleasant, the three-time reigning Division IV champions who moved up to D-III this fall, the win came in its first full 48-minute game of the year. The Townies dropped to 0-2, following a loss last week to Woonsocket. East Providence opens its D-I slate on the road Friday, Sept. 27, in Warwick against reigning state champ Hendricken at 7 p.m.
After a slow start, the Zlehs emphatically put their imprint on Friday’s game. Randolph fumbled on the Kilties’ second position following a hit by E.P. defensive end Jon Hernandez. Baptista recovered at the Townies’ 32. The hosts then went on a significant drive before it stalled on an incomplete fourth-down pass at the Mt. Pleasant 28.
It took the visitors all of three plays to break the scoreless deadlock, Randolph Zleh more than making up for his previous miscue by ducking and deeking his way to a 78-yard touchdown romp. At one point he was surrounded and/or in the grasp of at least three Townies before breaking loose for the remaining 40 yards to the endzone.
The Kilties gave the Townies one first down with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and allowed another on a Casey 13-yard run during E.P.’s next possession. But Mt. Pleasant eventually forced the locals to punt and that’s when Guei Zleh came to the fore. He scooped up the bouncing ball at his own six and proceeded to return the kick 65 yards to the E.P. 29. Two plays later, Guei cut back inside for the remaining yards to touch. The third Zleh on the Mt. Pleasant roster, Albert, booted his second point after to make the score 14-0 visitors.
Twice before intermission the Townies turned the ball over with good field position, once on a fumble and the other on a muffed punt, which Mt. Pleasant recovered at the E.P. 27. The Kilties made the locals pay following the latter, using three plays to build their comfortable three-touchdown cushion by halftime. Randolph Zleh accounted for the score, a nine-yard run. Mt. Pleasant QB Klimo Kotoe helped set up the touchdown with a short three-yard keeper then connected with wideout Joseph Putu for a 15-yard completion.
The Townies, who finished with over 300 yards of total offense though just 102 in the first half, did not do themselves any favors by committing four turnovers in the opening 24 minutes. They fumbled another time and threw an interception to go along with the muffed punt and the other fumble. E.P. actually turned the ball over on four of its final five possessions of the first half, the last at the Mt. Pleasant nine yard line with 16 seconds to go.