Villa Novans upend East Providence High in non-league football opener


EAST PROVIDENCE — Mistakes in all three facets of the game, a couple of costly turnovers and ill-timed penalties were the undoing for the East Providence High School football team as the Townies dropped their 2013 48-minute debut, 26-21, to visiting Woonsocket in a non-league contest played Friday night, Sept. 13, at Pierce Stadium.

"It's a learning curve. We're continuing to get better. I'm disappointed for the kids. I think once they get that first taste of victory their confidence is going to soar," said East Providence head coach Sandy Gorham, whose Townies lost their 24-minute Injury Fund game to St. Raphael, 12-7, the week prior.

Friday, Division I-East Providence far out-gained its opponents from Division II, 376-211. Trystan Casey had a tremendous bow behind center, the junior quarterback leading the Townies and all rushers with 226 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns in his first career varsity start. Senior fullback Austin Baptista scored the other Townie touchdown (13 yards) and finished with 76 yards on 16 carries.

On the flip side, the E.P. quarterbacks, including senior backup John Costa, threw two interceptions. The Townies also had eight penalties for 55 yards in infractions to just 3-for-15 for Woonsocket. And the hosts had to use two of their three timeouts early in the second half, which hindered their final drive attempting to retake the lead.

In contrast, Novans' junior QB Miguel Raymond threw for the game-winning score late, a 26-yard pass in the flat to wide open tight end Austin Wolter with just under five minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Senior running back William Andino led the visitors with 81 yards on 12 carries, scoring twice on runs of 10 and five yards. Senior back D'Andre Thomas added 60 yards on six carries and one touchdown.

"We just didn't get the job done defensively. It seemed liked we would score and the energy level of the defense would drop and we allowed them to come right back and score on us," Coach Gorham said.

The Townies were first on the board, scoring on their second possession of the contest, a seven-play, 81-yard drive. Casey broke loose for a 65-yard run to set up the score. He also connected with Costa a corner route for 28 yards to the Woonsocket four. Two plays later, Casey kept for a one-yard touchdown. Coresy Resendes kicked the first of his three point-afters to make it 7-0 E.P. with 2:29 remaining in the first half.

The Novans, though, were quick to respond. A 15-yard personal foul flag against the Townies put Woonsocket into E.P. territory. Andino's 34-yard burst then gave the visitors a first-and-goal from the one. Thomas took it the rest of the way. The Novans' kick for point missed wide right, leaving the locals on top, 7-6.

Two miscues in the second quarter hurt for the Townies. A lazy lob by Costa, subbing for the moment for a nicked up Casey, on an open seam route was picked off deep in Woonsocket's end with the Townies driving. Later, a high snap as E.P. attempted to punt on fourth down at its own 40 gave the Novans great field position at the Townie 12.

The visitors took advantage, scoring three plays later on a 10-yard run by Andino, a sweep left to the wide side of the field. Raymond's pass attempt for two fell incomplete, but Woonsocket took the lead, 12-7, with just 57 second left in the opening half.

Much like the first half, East Providence scored on the third possession of the third quarter to regain the edge. Casey's 13-yard keeper capped an eight-play, 58-yard drive, which put the locals back in front, 14-12.

Again, though, just like they had earlier, the Villa Novans immediately answered E.P.'s score with one of their own, needing nine plays to cover 64 yards to touch.

Raymond (4-12-62 yards) hit on two passes for 30 yards during the drive, including an 11-yard toss to Joshua Trinidad on fourth-and-seven from the E.P. 16. Andino covered the remaining five yards on the next play for the score. Raymond then hit Thomas for the two-point conversion to put Woonsocket on top again, 20-14.

The Novans' lead didn't last for very long as the Townies answered with another impressive march, this one being 72 yards in length on eight plays. Casey squirted free on runs of 19 and 26 yards. He ended it with a six-yard keeper as he rolled to his left on a fourth-and-three option play.

The score 21-20, the teams traded punts. The Novans made quick work of their second time with the ball in the fourth quarter. Thomas broke off left tackle for a 39-yard run to the E.P. 34. Following a two-yard run by Jaston Robinson, Raymond connected with Thomas for six yard then found Wolter, open in coverage failure by E.P., alone for the eventual winning score.

"I told the kids this game is about field position and big plays," Coach Gorham said. "We lost the game of field position tonight and our defensive end gets caught inside on that long run. (Thomas) is a good runner, but there's no way that should happen. Then we lose the tight end in coverage. Those kinds of things can't happen."

The Townies couldn't find another answer despite two late possessions, including one after a Woonsocket fumble was recovered by junior linebacker Jaxin Smith at the E.P. 30. Casey's final burst, a 29-yard scamper, put the locals into Woonsocket territory. But his final two passes, including one thrown into triple coverage that should have been picked, fell incomplete. His counterpart Raymond then took three knees to end the contest.

"We've already come a long way. We're much better than we were last year. We're going to be more competitive in the league. But we have to learn how to win. We're young. We'll learn. And when we do, we'll be dangerous," Coach Gorham added.


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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.