PORTSMOUTH — The varsity football team may be 2-0 in Division 1 following an impressive win over Cranston West Saturday, but it’s got a lot of work to do, according to coach Ryan Moniz.
“We had a little bit of a letdown this week during practice, and it clearly needs to get better,” said Mr. Moniz following his team’s 27-7 dismantling of the Falcons in the annual Homecoming game. “In the end, we won; that’s the most important thing. But we have a lot of room for improvements.”
Portsmouth started strong with a long drive featuring quarterback Matt Sewell scrambling on third-and-nine to find Colin Tullson for a first-down reception. Sewell later would pass for a touchdown to make it 7-0 with 1:18 left in the first quarter.
Tullson would make a fine play during the Falcons’ next possession, going after quarterback Steven Furtado, who then got flagged for intentional grounding and later failed to convert on a third-down pass. On the ensuing punt by Cranston West — a long one — Sewell snagged it and ran ran up the middle for a touchdown, making it 14-0 with only seconds left in the first quarter.
Putting an exclamation mark at the end of the first period, Patriots defender Eros Gautier leveled a Falcon a split second after he picked up the ball during the kickoff.
After another good punt by Cranston West to start the second quarter, Sewell kept the ball for a 25-yard run, followed by some tough rushing by Travis O’Brien which brought the ball to the Falcons’ 25. Sewell then rushed for what appeared to be a Patriots’ touchdown, but PHS was flagged for holding to negate the score.
Portsmouth would make up for not scoring on that drive when Sewell kept the ball for a long TD run early on in the second half. The point-after attempt was blocked, making it 20-0 Patriots.
Despite some sloppy play from the Patriots, their defense stopped the Falcons from scoring on their next drive.
An unsportsman-like conduct penalty against PHS gave the Falcons 15 more yards to work with on the kickoff. Shortly afterward, defensive back Sam McNally nearly intercepted a pass near the goal line, but a pass interference call went against PHS to put the ball at the 16 yard line. A sure Falcons’ TD pass was then batted down by Sewell, who like many Patriots played well on both sides of the ball.
“He doesn’t come off the field, and a lot of our guys don’t,” said Mr. Ryan. “We have a lot of guys who really are conditioned athletes. We rely on some of our more experienced guys to play both ways and they’ve been doing a great job with that.”
Sewell may be the core of the team’s offense, he said, “but he makes a ton of plays on defense and he’s great at the return game. He definitely leaves his mark on each football game.”
After three defensive lineman for PHS made a stop for negative yards, Cranston West decided to go for it on fourth and 14. It didn’t work out, as Portsmouth’s Ryan MacDonald made a nice defensive stop, allowing the Patriots to take over at their its 21 yard line. Despite a long pass completion from Sewell to Christian Darden, however, the Patriots couldn’t advance any further and had to punt. The Falcons’ Alex Cortellessa made a nice return to the Patriots’ 46, and Cranston West finally got on the board near the end of the third quarter to make it 20-7.
On the kickoff, Sewell bobbled the ball before finding a lane on the right side to run it all the way to the Falcons’ 20. However, the quarterback was picked off early in the fourth quarter while throwing from the nine yard line.
After a stalled Falcons drive, O’Brien made a couple of tough runs to help the Patriots grind out some yardage, including a Sewell rush for a first down to Cranston West’s 12 yard line.
On the next play, O’Brien ran into the end zone, making it 27-7.
Plays South Kingstown Saturday
PHS is now 2-0 in Division 1 and 3-0 overall counting a non-league victor over Rogers High School. The Patriots’ next game is at South Kingstown Saturday, Oct. 5.
“That’s a tough game,” said the coach. “That’s a good league opponent. They run the same offense as Cranston West did but they’re a lot bigger — bigger, physical kids — so we have our work cut out for us.”
Check out a gallery of Jason Speakman’s photos from the game below.