Portsmouth dominates Middletown in annual turkey day game


PORTSMOUTH — Matthew Sewall needed a hand carrying his trophies off the field following the Portsmouth High School varsity football’s blowout win over Middletown today, 35-6.

The quarterback took home the sportsmanship award and, along with other players from the Class of 2014, a trophy that went to all the seniors.

It was their last game at John F. Kennedy Memorial Field, the Patriots’ home field.

“It’s definitely emotional,” Sewall said after the game. “We were talking about it on the sidelines as starters were getting taken out, that we’ve played our last plays here. You know, we’ve been playing here since we were 6. But we ended on a great note.”

Indeed, the Patriots dominated the game from the start, allowing only a late touchdown from Middletown in the 49th annual Thanksgiving Day game between the two schools, a tradition that started in 1965.

The weather — 40 degrees at kickoff with a strong winds blowing toward the southeast — didn’t make for ideal playing conditions for the non-league game, but it didn’t seem to bother the Patriots. Middletown started against the wind, and went three and out on its first possession, which included a third-down sack of the quarterback by Portsmouth’s Luke Medeiros.

After the punt by Middletown, Evan Criner had an impressive run which took the ball inside the Islanders’ 20-yard line. Ryan MacDonald ran in for the first Patriots’ touchdown and a two-point conversion made it 8-0 Portsmouth with 3:13 left in the first quarter.

Then Sewall put on a show, keeping the ball to rush for three consecutive touchdowns which brought the score to 28-0 with 8:18 left in the third.

Early in the fourth quarter, Eros Gautier scored on a 1-yard run to make it 35-0 Portsmouth with 11:22 left. Gauthier had a strong game on both sides of the ball, notching a quarterback sack. Andrew French added several strong tackles.

“The wind was a factor, but we came out and had some young guys step up, some inexperienced guys step up. They played really well. We’re still improving in our tackling; I thought that was pretty good,” said PHS coach Ryan Moniz following the game.

Portsmouth’s star running back, Travis O’Brien, saw limited action due to an ankle sprain suffered in a Nov. 15 game against Barrington High School. Mr. Moniz said the team is being careful with O’Brien, whom they hope will be at full strength for the Patriots’ first playoff game against Bishop Hendricken Tuesday night.

“As hard as it is to hold people out, especially seniors, it’s in our best interests to be cautious,” the coach said.

Hendricken trounced Portsmouth, 41-21, in a Division 1 matchup on Oct. 25.

“We have our work cut out for us,” said Mr. Moniz. “They’re a great team, but we’re getting better and we should be ready for them on Tuesday.”

Tuesday’s game starts at 6 p.m. at Bishop Hendricken, 2615 Warwick Ave., Warwick.

Watch the Portsmouth High School Marching Band play "For Portsmouth" following the Patriots' first touchdown.


More Joe Marcello photos from the game:


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.